GOP state Sen. Roy Ashburn has had a rocky relationship with some of his Senate Republican colleagues in recent years.
Now Ashburn has recorded a 30-second robocall attacking Republican Sen. George Runner, who is favored to win a Board of Equalization seat in the 2nd District that stretches from the Oregon border through Sacramento and down to parts of Los Angeles County. Runner faces Democrat Chris Parker, Libertarian Willard D. Michlin and Peace and Freedom entrant Toby Mitchell-Sawyer.
"Hi, this is Republican state Senator Roy Ashburn," he states. "I'm calling to urge you to vote for Chris Parker for Board of Equalization. The last thing we need is George Runner on California's tax board."
The call launches today, on the eve of Election Day, to 180,000 Republicans and decline-to-state voters in the massive district, according to Parker campaign consultant Mike Roth. Ashburn, whose Bakersfield-based district borders Runner's legislative district, is termed out of the Senate.
Ashburn goes on to repeat claims in a Parker attack mailer, including "double dipping on taxpayer-funded living expenses" to "numerous Fair Political Practices Committee fines for illegal contributions."
The claim about "double-dipping" has to do with the fact that Runner and his wife, Sharon, were both lawmakers from 2004 to 2008. Each was entitled to per diem payments, and each received them, but the Parker campaign asserts that it counts as "double dipping" because they shared a residence.
The Parker campaign also points to three FPPC violations Runner had in past years, ranging from mishandling of surplus campaign funds after an election to failing to disclose the receipt of concert tickets.
Finally, Ashburn says in the call that Runner made "illegal side deals with departments," a reference to an agreement Runner made with the state corrections department that reduced the number of paroled sex offenders sent to his Antelope Valley district. Runner said last year in a Bee story that a disproportionate number of parolees were going back to his district. The state corrections department ultimately rescinded the policy it had worked out with Runner, saying that it was improper to apply favorable rules to any one area.
Update (11:57 a.m.): Runner campaign consultant Matt Rexroad responded in an e-mail:
"Republicans looking for a choice on how to vote on the tax board can choose Republican Taxpayer Advocate/Senator George Runner endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association or a Democrat supported by a Republican State Senator that has continually voted to raise taxes. The Runner team likes our chances here."
The statement also includes a retort from Runner: "It saddens me to see a Republican elected official with so much promise continue a pattern of political self-destruction."