Slate Mail Ads - Paid Endorsement or Political Trickery Print
News - Opinion
Written by B|V|N Newsroom   
Monday, 12 May 2014 21:07

EDITORIAL -  In the next few weeks, if not already, your mailbox is going to be filled with advertisements and brochures for candidates for every position on this June's ballots. The message will be "Vote for me because" or "Don't vote for him because".

Positive ads as well as negative ads designed by public relations firms will try to sway your vote to the candidate willing to spend the most money. Then there are other mailers that will look like endorsements from powerful groups that aren't what they seem. These mailers are called SLATE MAIL ADS and they can be quite deceptive.

One paid political consultant who has slithered onto this years election scene is Stephan Frank  of the Eagle Group. Mr. Frank writes a political blog and is a  consultant for candidates in small communities with ties to the Republican offshoot movement, the Tea Party. But Frank's real experience comes from his career as a printing supplies salesman.

This year Frank will be paid several thousands of dollars from candidates like Madera County Sheriff, Michael Salvador, Madera County Board of Supervisors Ray Krause and possibly Paul Cliby and Madera County Auditor Marcia Hall (though Hall has not listed any expenditures to Frank or anything else other than SLATE MAILINGS on her disclosure forms - a story for another day).

One of Frank's favorite advertising forms is SLATE advertising and this year in Madera County he has directed thousands of dollars to his friend attorney James Lacy of Landslide Communications which is the sole marketing agent for several right-winged slates in California. The Orange County Weekly has referred to Jim Lacy as “conservative slate mail king.”

One of these slate mailers is from a "group" Mr. Lacy calls "Save Prop 13". On the mailer is a picture of Howard Jarvis who co-wrote the famous Proposition 13 in the mid-seventies that cut property taxes by two-thirds and put a limit on future real property tax increases. The website attached to the mailers says that the "Save Prop 13" organization is run by a committee but calls to Mr. Lacy to speak about his organization have gone unreturned for over a month.

So we reached out to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a legitimist organization dedicated to continuing the work of Howard Jarvis. Executive Director Kris Vosburgh said that Mr. Lacy's "organization" is in no way linked to the HJTA. "We do not endorse at the local level. That slate mailer has nothing to do with us and Mr. Lacy is a completely separate entity."

When asked how Mr. Lacy could send out mailers that so closely link themselves to Howard Jarvis and the work he did with Proposition 13, Vosburgh said, "Mr. Lacy purchased that photo of Mr. Jarvis that was used in a 1978 Time Magazine article from the photographer. As for the name "Save Prop 13", anyone can use that. It means nothing. I guess we could bring legal action but he has a disclaimer on all of his mailings."

Interestingly enough the disclaimer, in very small print, tells the voter that this mailing is NOT an endorsement and that each person listed on the mailer PAID to be on it. How much did they pay? According to disclosure fillings from March of 2014, Madera County Auditor Marcia Hall paid Mr. Lacy's firm over $5000 dollars for SLATE MAIL advertising with nearly a thousand of that going to the Save Prop 13 "committee".

Similar expenses were also listed on the disclosure statements for Salvador, Krause and Cliby. Krause also paid  over $6000 to Stephen Frank's Eagle Group to run his campaign. Krause and Salvador also got better rates for the SLATE MAILERS paying less than the fees charged to Mrs. Hall's campaign.

"I've never heard of any of these candidates and anyways we would never charge a fee for our endorsement", Vosburgh added.

So when you pull these SLATE MAILERS out of your mailbox this year ask yourself one thing, "Why is a guy who has been dead since 1986 endorsing a candidate in 2014?" The answer is simple, he is not. It's all about an attorney in Laguna Niguel, California getting richer while voters are being hoodwinked.

There is only one thing responsible voters should do with these mailers, put them in the blue can and do your own research on the candidates and issues in this next election. As for me I question the integrity of a candidate that would try to use this trickery on the voters they want to represent.