RANCHO SANTA FE — While the last RSF Association meeting served as a forum to discuss future campaign guidelines, it also brought to light the lack of civility, which occurred during the last board election.
Items regarding campaign spending limits and disclosures were on the agenda. Ivan Holler, RSF Association Acting Manager, revealed some initial preliminary analysis to see if there was any feasibility on the matter.
Holler cited some legal cases regarding campaigns.
“Because the Association is not a government entity it may be able to adopt some sort of regulations limiting campaign contributions to individual candidates,” Holler said. “However, I would note that there would be some risk associated with any such action, again, as a challenge to right of free speech.”
Holler then went on to say that in regard to campaign disclosure requirements, such an action may be possible, but just as with campaign spending limits, this would require additional legal research.
All research done by staff was a legal preliminary review and more needed to be done to explore the issues.
“I for one do not want to spend legal money for HOA case law,” RSF Association Director Heather Slosar said.
RSF Association Director Rochelle Putnam said she didn’t necessarily think they were looking to establish case law. She felt there were a couple issues that concerned the community, one which pertained to transparency.
Putnam said community members expressed that a great deal of money was spent on the recent campaign, and from a curiosity standpoint, showed concern that a seat on the board could be bought.
“The second issue here is regarding future elections,” Putnam said. “I think it’s intimidating with respect to candidates consider running that they may have to spend a great deal of money to actually get elected and run a valid campaign.”
Moving forward, she said, they may have a tough time getting qualified volunteers willing to step up and put themselves through this.
“Not only financially, it was a particularly ugly campaign,” said Putman, adding how she did not want to revisit it again.
New board member, Kim Eggleston, was candid regarding the election campaign in regard to the personal attacks he encountered.
“Had I known that I would have been subjected to the stuff that was pulled on me, I never would have done this,” Eggleston said. He went on to say that the money in the campaign flowed as a direct result from when the risk of fraud surfaced.
“A group called PIC (Public Interest Committee) hired somebody to go to Phoenix and dig up court records on me and publically disseminated my social security number to God knows to how many people,” said Eggleston, referring to an e-mail blast.
Eggleston has had to hire lawyers trying to figure out the implications of all this while trying to protect himself financially against identity theft.
“It’s abhorrent and it has put me in financial risk,” he said.
The money which was spent on the campaign, Eggleston said, was a direct response against what to done to him.
Board members agreed that in the future they should review and refresh campaign and candidate guidelines.
Part of the guidelines also up for consideration is having potential candidates speaking to third party and surrogate groups supporting them on civility guidelines. For example, actions taken in the 2014-15 election campaign would not be tolerated.
“I don’t think we should over react on one probably anomalous election cycle,” Eggleston said. “This was a particularly contentious set of circumstances which led up to this election and hopefully this is an anomaly and does not repeat itself.”