On July 3rd, the Rancho Santa Fe Association board met for the first time since the June election. Ann Boon returned as board president and Kim Eggleston made his first appearance as treasurer. The most prominent item of the agenda for the new Association board was campaign finance and ethics. It was not surprising that it was at the forefront of the meeting after a less than civil election cycle for the Association.
Newly elected treasurer Kim Eggleston made his opinion known about the tactics of those who opposed to his candidacy. They used negative and personal attacks on Eggleston during the election. His social security number was also made public within the personal attacks. He called the discussion regarding potential limits on campaign funds a “red herring” and pointed out that much of the money spent in the election was required to respond to the personal attacks made by the very people seeking new restrictions.
“I think we should not overreact by trying to engage in some regulatory scheme as a response to this, hopefully, one-time anomaly. It was the nature of the campaign that was awful which was greater than the money spent.”
Association Manager Ivan Holler mentioned three Supreme Court cases to set the tone for the discussion (Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC, McCutcheon v. FEC) on campaign contribution limits to candidates. Further, the Association is a private entity and is not bound by federal limits although there are guidelines set by the Association.
Holler stated that independent expenditures are more problematic since it is difficult to track and hold third parties accountable. Candidates are also not responsible or tied to third party independent expenditure committees.
Association Vice President Craig McAllister was firm in his belief that campaign finance regulation and disclosure for Association election would do nothing to curtail ethical issues. McAllister stated:
“As I see it, the bulk of the excessive spending and repugnant mudslinging being discussed, was done by surrogates or third parties.
With that in mind, I find it hard to understand how any regulations on individual candidates are going to affect how third parties spend their money or sling their mud.”
In response to the volatile nature of the campaign, the Association discussed whether or not the current rules along with the past election would deter potential qualified candidates from running in the future.
Dr. Dominick Addario, who also ran in the election, was in attendance. He advocated for finance reforms and disclosure for elections throughout the meeting.
Director Philip Wilkinson stated:
“How do we ensure candidates that are going to run won’t have to spend twenty, seventy, or eighty thousand dollars?
We can tighten up the guidelines, but they’re just guidelines. I understand that we can’t force people to a limit. We need to find a way to have candidates behave in a professional and respectful manner, but I don’t think we can enforce it.”
Member of the Ranch and lawyer Mike Licosati also believes that campaign finance and ethics are unenforceable, except through the voice of voters. In response to the vitriolic campaign, he stated:
“I think this election is going to teach a lot of people that those kinds of tactics are going to backfire.”
President Ann Boon ended the discussion with something everyone in the room, even those who had disputes about campaign issues, could agree with:
“We have a lot of important projects and issues on the table, let’s roll up our sleeves and work on them. We’ll put this on the list of many things we need to consider. I think we have one-hundred percent agreement to put this past election behind us.”