The city attorney for Rancho Mirage sent out a list of do's and don'ts to city council members that are seeking re-election. The campaign rules reminder was initiated by potential violations of laws with regards to use of public resources by Rancho Mirage Council members.
Officials holding public office can not use any public property that was paid for or is owned by the city in their campaigning or fundraising for re-election.
"That can include stationary. It can include the city seal or the cities logo," said Rancho Mirage City Attorney, Steve Quintanilla. "City computers, IPADS, internet service. So it's pretty broad. They can not use any of those public resources for purposes of campaigning."
Recently, Quintanilla had to advise Rancho Mirage city council member Ted Weill that he should refrain from using city hall's address as his contact information for his re-election campaign.
"Because that may result in people responding to city hall with campaign contributions," Quintanilla said. "And that would be a violation of the law if campaign contributions were sent to the city and delivered to him."
Rancho Mirage Council member Scott Hines recently self-reported a violation for mistakenly e-mailing a campaign solicitation to the city manager.
We tried reaching out to Ted Weill and Scott Hines, but they were unavailable for interviews Monday afternoon.
Below is the complete e-mail from Steve Quintanilla to members of the Rancho Mirage and Desert Hot Springs city councils.
Dear Council Members:
If you decide to run for re-election, there are several rules you should be aware of with respect to your role as a sitting council member. Here are some "dos and don'ts" you should consider while campaigning for re-election.
· Do include your name, street address, and city on the outside of each piece of mass mail.
· Do make it clear in any campaign communication that the communication was not paid for with public funds.
· Don't solicit contributions from city staff.
· Don't use anything that has been paid for with public dollars, which includes city owned office equipment such as photocopiers, office supplies, letterhead, postage, laptops, IPads or cell phones, photographs, internet service, computer software, vehicles, office space and staff time.
· Don't solicit or utilize the services of city consultants, including but not limited to the city attorney for advice pertaining to your personal campaign activities.
· Don't use city symbols, logos, seals, letterhead, or insignias of your office in campaign literature.
· Don't use time during public meetings, particularly televised public meetings, to make extended comments related to your campaign platform or campaign issues.
· Don't promise a prospective contributor a favorable decision in exchange for the receipt of a campaign contribution.
· Don't state what your final decision would be regarding a prospective development project that must be considered in the context of a public prior to considering and weighing all of the evidence at the public hearing.
· Don't make the support of your candidacy a condition of city employment decisions such as but not limited to compensation.
· Don't meet in person, via phone, etc. with more than one other council member to discuss any matter within the subject matter jurisdiction of the city council outside the context of a noticed public meeting.
· Don't accept, solicit, or direct a contribution of more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) from any party, or his or her agent, while a proceeding involving a license, permit, or other entitlement for use is pending before any joint powers agency or other agency you have been appointed to and for three months following the date a final decision is rendered in the proceeding if you know or have reason to know that the contributor has a financial interest in the outcome of the proceeding.
PLEASE NOTE: This memorandum is not intended to provide a full analysis of all the "dos and don'ts" of local political campaigning. You are advised to seek independent legal advice on all matters pertaining to your personal campaign activities such as soliciting, receiving and reporting contributions, etc.