SLO City Councilman John Ashbaugh under fire again for money issue

acornejo@thetribunenews.comOctober 29, 2012 

Candidate: John Ashbaugh | Race: San Luis Obispo City Council


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— San Luis Obispo City Councilman John Ashbaugh is again under the scrutiny of his opponents after erroneously listing a $1,200 personal expense as a contribution in the latest round of financial filings with the city as he seeks re-election.

Last week, election opponent Kevin P. Rice filed a complaint with the city alleging that Ashbaugh misused city resources for personal gain by using his city-issued email address to campaign.

Rice, running for the council, also included two other suspected election code violations: filing a financial disclosure three days late and exceeding the city’s $200 campaign contribution limit.

As a result, Ashbaugh paid $252 to the city on Friday for accepting a campaign contribution that exceeded the donation cap set by city regulations.

Yet on a required financial disclosure form filed with the city on the prior day, Ashbaugh listed a non-monetary contribution of $1,200 from Full of Life Flatbread Pizza Co. of Los Alamos for a fundraising event.

On Monday, Ashbaugh said that it was a mistake, and that he had paid for the pizza, beer and wine for the event and the company was merely a vendor – not a contributor. 

He said he planned on filing an amended form with the city to correct the mistake.

Opponent Matthew Strzepek, who also signed the original complaint filed by Rice, asked City Attorney Christine Dietrick to look into the latest blunder.

"I am concerned about what appears to be a pattern of disregard for election law by John Ashbaugh, who is aided by not one, but two campaign treasurers,” Strzepek wrote in an email. “Furthermore, I am very concerned about John Ashbaugh’s ability to oversee an almost $100 million city budget.”

Strzepek also noted a $250 donation listed by Mayor Jan Marx, who is also seeking re-election.

City Clerk Maeve Grimes said both Ashbaugh and Marx filed amended campaign disclosures to fix the errors on Monday.

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