Weidman campaign falls into common election trap

Les Weidman
Les Weidman

A press release announcing the county Board of Supervisors candidacy of former Sheriff Les Weidman appeared briefly on the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department Web site in December before being removed.

County employees apparently also received copies of Weidman's announcement through county e-mail.

County Counsel Michael Krausnick commented that both violate county policy as well as state law -- but they are not unusual when election campaigns ramp up.

"This happens in every election. These issues come up, and we try to deal with them as quickly as we can," Krausnick said Wednesday. Other typical violations include using county bulletin boards to announce political fund-raisers, or listing a county telephone number as a contact in a press release, he said.

The Web site posting was compounded by a note at the bottom saying it was "official mail from the Sheriff's Department, Stanislaus County."

Sheriff Adam Christianson said he had the Weidman announcement taken off the site as soon as it came to his attention.

"Our Web master didn't know he couldn't post the press release," Christianson said. "I've accepted responsibility for it. It's just one of those things, a simple mistake. We corrected it as soon as we heard about it."

Christianson was elected a year ago to replace Weidman and was endorsed by the former sheriff. Weidman is running for the District 2 supervisor's seat held by Tom Mayfield, who is not seeking re-election. The only other announced candidate in the race is Vito Chiesa, a Hughson farmer who has been active in the Farm Bureau.

Krausnick sent a letter to the Weidman campaign, pointing out the problems. Weidman's campaign chairman, Brad Bates, replied that neither Weidman nor his campaign committee had encouraged the posting of the press release on the Web site.

The campaign committee tried to eliminate public agency e-mail addresses from the mailing list, Bates said, but apparently missed some.

"We just want to be sure to stop the use of county e-mail or Web sites for any kind of political activity," Krausnick said. "That's been done."

Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at tmoran@modbee.com or 578-2349.

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