By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 09/30/13, 8:33 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> Councilman Rikke Van Johnson has said several times as he campaigns for mayor that voters should support him because he’s demonstrated his independence by never taking money from the police or fire unions.

“I have never taken any money from public safety in my tenure,” Johnson said at a candidate forum Sept. 25, as he argued for pension reform.

But twice since he was first elected in 2003, he has taken the money — $500 from the police union in 2004 and $1,000 from the fire union in 2005 — according to campaign finance statements he filed at the time.

He must have forgotten that over the multiple elections since then, Johnson said Monday, but the point is he’s continued to act independently.

“It’s been eight years since I received that money, and I did forget about it, but once the public safety saw my vote wasn’t for sale, they did not give me any more funds,” he said. “It was only a one-time receipt from each.”

The discrepancy was first noticed by Matt Korner, a rival candidate for mayor who has criticized the role of police and fire unions.

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