Clerk’s office questions Pruett statement |

Clerk’s office questions Pruett statement

Gail Smith, Nevada County assistant clerk-recorder and assistant registrar of voters, sent the following communication to The Union today.

Smith’s boss, county Clerk-Recorder Gregory Diaz, is running for election to the post against Barry Pruett, in the June 8 primary.

On March 12, the last day of candidate filing, Barry Pruett, a candidate for the office of Nevada County Clerk-Recorder came in to the office to finish his filing paperwork, and at that time he filed his Candidate Statement of Qualifications.

Per California Elections Code, Section 13307, staff is instructed to accept statements, and may not make suggestions for changes to the content of the statement; the content of the statement is created solely by the candidate, and as such, the statement was accepted by our staff at the time of filing.

Elections Code Section 13313 requires the Elections Office to prepare for public viewing the content appearing in the Voter Information Pamphlet. I was responsible for preparing this file, and I am the final reviewer of the documents submitted by candidates for office to ensure that all documents are complete and that all content complies with Elections Code.

During my review of Mr. Pruett’s statement, I discovered several sentences that appeared to violate Elections Code Section 13308, which states:

“In addition to the restrictions set forth in Section 13307, any candidate’s statement submitted pursuant to Section 13307 shall be limited to a recitation of the candidate’s own personal background and qualifications, and shall not in any way make reference to other candidates for that office or to another candidate’s qualifications, character, or activities. The elections official shall not cause to be printed or circulated any statement that the elections official determines is not so limited or that includes any reference prohibited by this section.”

I immediately informed Mr. Diaz, the clerk-recorder, that I believed there to be a problem with Mr. Pruett’s statement, and I requested to handle the situation without him, and Mr. Diaz agreed.

At no point was Mr. Diaz involved in the deliberation process; I alone have worked closely with the County Counsel’s office to make this decision.

After consulting with our county counsel and the California Secretary of State’s Office to confirm the violations, and in accordance with Elections Code Section 13308 referenced above, I am striking the following sentences from Mr. Pruett’s Candidate Statement of Qualifications:

“Over the past years, the Nevada County Clerk-Recorder’s office became an embarrassment. We need new management.”

“Let’s stop the drama and put professional management in charge.”

As stated above, Elections Code prohibits a reference to a candidate’s opponent, or the opponent’s qualification, character, or activities; these sentences fall into one or more of these categories.

The options available to our office to amend this violation of Elections Code are:

1) to strike the offensive language from the statement,

2) disallow the printing of the entire statement, or 3) for the Clerk-Recorder’s Office to file a writ of mandate or injunction “requiring any or all of the material in the candidates statement to be amended or deleted” (EC 13313, (b)1).

In the best interests of the taxpayers of Nevada County, and to save the County from the burden of paying attorney fees for something easily resolved outside of court, I have decided that the disallowable content in Mr. Pruett’s statement shall be stricken, and that the remainder of the statement that complies with Elections Code will be printed as written, and have discussed with Mr. Pruett my decision regarding this matter.


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