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Petaluma Tomorrow violates campaign law

The local group responsible for a law requiring the declaration of campaign mailers recently violated its own policy, becoming the first group to do so since the law passed in 2004.

According to the ordinance that Petaluma Tomorrow helped author, any campaign mailers with distribution of more than 200 pieces must be reported to the city clerk's office. Petaluma Tomorrow, which backed progressive candidates Jason Davies and Alicia Kae Herries in the City Council race, preemptively fined itself $500 last week for failing to disclose a mailer that accused city council candidates Mike Healy, Kathy Miller and Gabe Kearney of accepting an excessive amount of campaign donations from out-of-town contributors and interests.

Petaluma Tomorrow Treasurer Bill Phillips said it was an unintentional oversight that the organization worked to correct as soon as they discovered the error.

"Petaluma Tomorrow has been policing its own ordinance since 2004," he said. "Just as we police candidates on both sides, we had to give ourselves a kick in the pants and take our own medicine when we made a mistake."

But Healy wasn't buying the group's explanation. "For them to claim they forgot to turn the flyer into the clerk's office is ridiculous," he said this week.

Healy, one of those criticized on the mailer, also expressed displeasure at the "mudslinging" nature of the Petaluma Tomorrow mailer, pointing out that the majority of all the campaign material in the City Council race was mostly positive in theme. "It's kind of sad to have the one &‘hit-piece' come from a self-styled good government group," he added.

Phillips said that the material on the mailer was factual and based on public filings. On the reverse side of the controversial mailer, Petaluma Tomorrow also printed material supporting Davies and Herries for their local fundraising efforts. "We represented both sides with factual data," said Phillips.

Petaluma Tomorrow sent the self-imposed fine to the city clerk's office and City Manager John Brown said the money will be deposited into the general fund budget.

(Contact Janelle Wetzstein at janelle.wetzstein@arguscourier.com)


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