Pasadena activists want details on their Mayor’s campaign spending


Pasadena City Council

A group of Hispanic voters that accuses the city of Pasadena of diluting its voting rights is asking that a political action committee with ties to the mayor turn over records of communications with voters.

The PAC — Committee to Keep Pasadena Strong — has received funding from Mayor Johnny Isbell’s campaign coffers. It has been subpoenaed for records of communications with voters about local elections and Hispanic voters between 2013 and 2015, among other records, court documents show.

It’s the latest development in a lawsuit and conflict that has garnered national attention for being emblematic of modern voting rights battles.


The documents being requested now, plaintiffs contend, “will shed light on the Mayor’s efforts to eliminate two single member districts from the City’s election system.”

“Documents reflecting the plans of the Mayor to elect council members who would support his effort to eliminate single member districts are central to the issue of intentional discrimination,” the plaintiffs wrote in a motion filed Monday.

The political action committee is fighting the subpoena, contending that its First Amendment rights to freedom of association shield it from having to turn over the records.

See here, here, and here for the background; that last link has details about Isbell’s PAC spending. I personally find First Amendment arguments against disclosure of PAC donor identities to be misguided. Even if you buy the “freedom of association” angle, which I think is sketchy, I say the right of the people to know who’s buying their elections outweighs it. Federal Judge Lee Rosenthal will hold a hearing on the motion today, so we’ll see if she sees it my way.

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