March 17, 2018
The race for San Bernardino County District Attorney is just starting. As of last Friday, the filing deadline for public office for the June 2018 primary, only two people completed the necessary paperwork; incumbent four-term District Attorney Mike Ramos and former Deputy District Attorney and current defense attorney Jason Anderson.
With only two candidates in the race this winner-takes-all election is over on June 5th.
The close of filing is just the beginning. The four men charged and acquitted in the so-called Colonies Corruption Case have started a political action committee, Business Leaders for Fair and Ethical Government, to support and oppose candidates for office, including the removal of District Attorney Mike Ramos. So far, they have raised just short of $500,000 in a matter of weeks to do just that.
For his part, challenger Jason Anderson held his first fundraiser last week at the home of former Federal Judge and Defense Attorney Stephen Larsen. It is expected that Anderson will easily raise $200,000 for this election.
Incumbent D.A. Ramos, on the other hand is finding the fundraising much more difficult, according to reports from inside and outside of the District Attorney’s office. Ramos had only $100,000 on hand for reelection. Previously, Ramos had raised money to run for California Attorney General, but that campaign was short lived. Ramos quickly blew through much of the funds he had raised. That is where Ramos may have made a fatal tactical error.
Thanks to San Bernardino County campaign finance limits (which mirror the State of California’s finance limits), Ramos can only raise up to $4,400 per person for public office in a given election cycle. So, every campaign contribution he has received over the past four years caps his fundraising. Any person, business, union or other campaign donor that has already provided the maximum, cumulative $4,400 can no longer contribute to his campaign.
The days of raising unlimited funds from a small group of donors, as has been the County tradition, are over. Someone forgot to tell Ramos.
This, of course does not apply to Political Action Committees that under the United States Constitution can raise unlimited funds, such as the Business Leaders for Fair and Ethical Government. This committee, according to campaign finance reports has been raising money from numerous donors in $9,000 increments and larger. It is now reaching out to smaller donors as well and is on a roll to eclipse the $1 million dollar mark long before the primary election.
A fundraising event for the PAC is currently being scheduled.
Whether or not any independent expenditure committees will assist the Mike Ramos campaign is unknown, but at this time the best educated guess is a negative.
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