During a public hearing, Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) forced the Administration and Legislative Leaders to admit that a contract the California Controller refused to pay for was included in a bill passed by the Budget Committee on Thursday. Essentially, backdating the check for something Dahle believes was an illegal contract.
Last year, rather than providing budget dollars directly to counties, as legally required, for voter outreach efforts during the pandemic, the Secretary of State took it upon himself to contract with a political consulting firm with close ties to then presidential candidate Joseph Biden. The $35 million contract is currently the subject of a legal battle with taxpayer groups for using funds without legislative authority for a new state-wide program, instead of assisting counties directly.
Assembly Bill 85 is a budget bill that includes a $35 million payment that the State Controller refused to pay because the Secretary of State authorized a voter information scheme instead of sending those funds directly to counties.
"For the Secretary of State to take dollars away from counties for his own voter outreach is underhanded and wrong," said Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber). "Besides, this $35 million use of taxpayer dollars went to an obviously partisan contractor, which doesn't instill trust in the independence of the information or their focus on all voters."
AB 85 passed the Senate Budget Committee on a 12-3 vote, and was sent to the Senate Floor for a final vote, as early as next week.
Watch Senator Dahle raise the question and the responses here.