Elections

SLO mayoral candidates tangle over campaign contribution

Heidi Harmon and incumbent Jan Marx are running for San Luis Obispo mayor.
Heidi Harmon and incumbent Jan Marx are running for San Luis Obispo mayor. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com, dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

San Luis Obispo mayor Jan Marx is questioning a campaign donation from a local political activist to her opponent, Heidi Harmon, that Harmon says was accepted in error.

Marx said that Harmon, a liberal politician and community organizer who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, accepted $300 from libertarian-leaning independent political activist Kevin P. Rice, under his organization Integrity San Luis Obispo, despite different ideological views.

But Harmon has responded by saying that she felt uncomfortable about the donation and never intended to accept it. Harmon said that her treasurer cashed the check by mistake after Harmon advised her not to.

Rice, a Los Angeles County firefighter, is aligned with Harmon in the opposition of the city’s rental housing inspection program and says she has “a lot of honesty and integrity.”

The contribution, reported in the latest campaign finance disclosure filing, was filed Aug. 10.

The money has since been returned to Rice, Harmon said.

Harmon added that she’s “disheartened” that Marx is “going so negative” in her campaign because it discourages the public.

Marx, who cited her experience and overall know-how as a candidate, told The Tribune that she monitors carefully who contributes to her campaign.

Speaking personally, I make sure our treasurer and I are on the same page, so that I can accept or reject contributions that are made.

San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, running for re-election

“Speaking personally, I make sure our treasurer and I are on the same page, so that I can accept or reject contributions that are made,” Marx said. “I am very assiduous about that issue.”

She wrote about Rice’s campaign contribution in her Oct. 2 newsletter, posted on her website.

“Among all these contributors, only one political action committee was listed, ‘Integrity San Luis Obispo,’ which made the maximum donation possible to my opponent,” Marx said. “A quick web search disclosed that this organization is the solo creation of a familiar local operative, Kevin P. Rice, whose antics have recently been exposed here.”

The “here” links to an anonymous blog titled “SLO Truth” detailing Rice’s threatening and intimidating tactics against local political opponents.

Marx added on Monday that Rice has been “aggressive and hostile” in his treatment toward her as mayor.

He also funded a $500 radio ad that supports Harmon’s campaign and paid for it independently of Harmon’s campaign or knowledge.

“Mudslinging is part of politics,” Rice said in an interview with The Tribune. “On the one hand, I applaud Jan because I like a vigorous public debate. On the other hand, Jan has stooped to posting scurrilous rumors about me by an internet blogger without having any idea if they were true. It’s 95 percent inaccurate.”

Rice said he hadn’t yet received the return check from Harmon, though he said it may be on its way.

The mayor and the local political establishment have sounded the alarm and are resorting to negative campaigning tactics and personal attacks. The residents of SLO deserve better.

Heidi Harmon, San Luis Obispo mayoral candidate

Harmon said that she’s not opposed to listening to political viewpoints different from her own and wants to keep her campaign positive, encouraging Marx to do the same.

“The mayor and the local political establishment have sounded the alarm and are resorting to negative campaigning tactics and personal attacks,” Harmon wrote in an email to supporters and media outlets titled “Let’s Stand Together.” She continued, “The residents of SLO deserve better. We call on Mayor Marx to join us in a positive campaign.”

Marx, however said that her intention isn’t to make Rice a campaign issue, but that the public information she has highlighted aims to inform voters to help them make a decision in the race.

On Thursday, the mayoral and City Council candidates are scheduled to discuss their platforms at 6 p.m. at the Madonna Inn before the SLO Under 40 group.

  Comments