The Public Eye: El Dorado DA Challenges Payment to Consultant
A civil suit has been filed in El Dorado County against members of a political consulting firm, alleging that they engaged in illegal taxpayer-financed activities to support passage of a special tax measure.
The El Dorado County District Attorney's Office, at the direction of the county grand jury, seeks to recover $10,000 in taxpayer funds from Dan Dellinger and Christopher Alarcon of Dan Dellinger Consulting. The Lotus-based firm was hired by the Pioneer Fire Protection District to provide consulting services related to a special tax measure on the November 2011 ballot.
Measure F passed with nearly 77 percent voter approval.
According to the July 26 complaint filed in El Dorado Superior Court, an initial $29,900 contract between the fire district and Dan Dellinger Consulting included mostly taxpayer-financed campaign activities expressly advocating passage of the tax measure.
Public agencies may use taxpayer funds to provide information on topics related to district finances, revenue sources and intended uses of the proposed taxes, but government code prohibits use of taxpayer money to advocate for a tax measure.
Dellinger said his firm acted properly, providing to the district only informational materials and handling the paperwork necessary to place the measure on the ballot. Voter outreach activities that the firm conducted were covered by private donations to a campaign committee, Save Pioneer Fire, he said.
Dellinger maintains that the complaint is politically motivated. County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn requested the grand jury investigation. Dellinger said Harn and District Attorney Vern Pierson are trying to put him out of business because he has conducted successful campaigns for several political candidates that they did not support.
"This is Chicago-style politics at its worst," Dellinger said. "The public will see through this." ...