The Editor's Back Fence

New: Berkeley Councilmembers offer election opinions using city email

Tuesday November 01, 2016 - 06:24:00 PM

Both Councilmember Linda Maio and Mayor Tom Bates have used their city-paid email to solicit readers for their election slates. The latest, from Bates:

"Several people have asked for my recommendations. If you'd like to see my local and Loni's state suggestions, you can contact me at and I'll be happy to send those to you. I cannot send them directly as City officials and staff are not permitted to use constituent email addresses for ballot purposes."

Is this legal? City Attorney Zach Cowan seems to have told them it is, but even though it's one remove from directly promoting candidates with their city mail it adds up to the same thing in my analysis. What is this letter but "using constituent email addresses for ballot purposes"? You'd think they would have learned from Hillary Clinton's unfortunate mismanagement of her own email.

If you agree that it's illegal, or think that it should be, you might just send your own comments to Mayor Bates at the above address. Or, you could file a complaint with the city's Fair Campaign Practices Commission, which might be addressed in, oh, maybe 2018 or so.