Circling the News is not advocating for or against a recall. This news blog has some of the smartest readers in Los Angeles, who we feel are able to make up their own minds about this political action.
But CTN does have an issue with Councilman Mike Bonin’s latest email (titled “Stop the Right-Wing Recalls”) that was sent to his large email list.
He writes that paid signature gathers are going door-to-door and “They are not offering Mike’s official response (as required by L.A. City election law) and they’re not disclosing their top donors (as required by state law). These are both misdemeanor offenses.”
Both statements are untrue.
Every signature gatherer is equipped with a bound petition book with Bonin’s rebuttal on the first page. The financial disclosure is handed out every month because it is updated.
Luckily, a signature gatherer stopped at my front door Tuesday afternoon. I asked to see Bonin’s response. I was handed the document and told I could keep it. The person said it is part of every signature gatherer’s packet.
Bonin’s response starts: “Caution: do not sign this petition which officially requests the City of Los Angeles to spend what may exceed $1,250,000 in taxpayer dollars on an additional election immediately before the already scheduled election.
“The ‘sponsors’ of this petition are abusing the process at the taxpayers’ expense. Just like Trump, they’re undermining the electoral process with false claims. . . .
“The operators of this secret committee announced they will start with a goal of $200,000 — and they have already collected more than $13,000 in secret funding.
“You just can’t trust the official proponents of this petition—especially with legal documents. In fact, one of the official leaders is a twice convicted criminal who was also charged with criminal fraud/forgery and convicted for knowingly receiving stolen property and willfully/wantonly disregarding public safety (source: according to www.LACourt.org).”
CTN asked the signature gatherer to see the top donors. They too were produced. This person said that these items are available to anyone who asks.
The recall petition that was reviewed and approved by the Secretary of State requires a statement of the official top funders. That form was delivered to Mike Bonin on June 15. Bonin responded on Twitter the same day.
The City also has an initiative, referendum & recall petition handbook that was revised in December 2019 (visit: https://clerk.lacity.org/sites/g/files/wph1491/files/2021-06/Initiative_Referendum_and_Recall_Petition_Handbook.pdf)
Petition Circulators are specified in the book as:
- Petition circulators must be at least 18 years old. 2. Persons circulating, as principal or agent, or having charge or control of the circulation of, or obtaining signatures to, any local initiative, referendum, or recall petitions shall not: a. Intentionally misrepresent or intentionally make any false statements concerning the contents, purpose or effect of the petition to any person who signs, or who desires to sign and asks questions about the petition. b. Willfully and knowingly publish and exhibit false information about the petition. c. Intentionally make false statements when asked by a voter whether he or she is a paid signature gatherer or volunteer.
CTN reached out to a member of the recall, who wrote: “Regular CD 11 citizens are looking into suing for this [Bonin’s statement]. It is a blatant lie and illegal to make false accusations and attempt to tamper with the voting process. It’s an attempt at voter suppression. When this crime is committed by an elected official the consequence is even graver. These affronts cause delays for the recall and have made it harder for us to accomplish our goals.”
CTN also reached out to Chad Molner, Bonin’s spokesperson, asking him about the email. He responded, “I don’t think that’s what the email said, but I can’t comment on it since it came from the campaign. You should reach out to Jesse Zwick.” CTN sent Molner the email, so he could see it.
CTN reached out to Zwick, who responded by email, “I’m glad the petitioner that came to your door followed city and state law and made the aforementioned documents available upon request.
“Many constituents have informed us that this was not their experience, and it is those reports that we’re referring to in the email.”
CTN asked him where we could find the citations in the law calling it a misdemeanor for failure to show a document. When he responds we’ll update this story.
CTN also sent a query to the L.A. City Ethics Committee about the claims.
According to the law, no person removed from an elected office by a recall or who resigned during a recall, shall be appointed to any office (under City Charter rules), for two years after that removal.
(Editor’s note: the person collecting signatures today said that if a person has signed a recall petition on-line, that signature will not count. A “wet” signature is needed, and someone will be at the Palisades Farmers Market on Sunday.)