Opinion | February 29th, 2024

Deceitful Tactics In East Bay Senate Race

By: Elana Auerbach  

Deceit and manipulation in politics are nothing new. In the progressive bastion of the Bay Area, we generally attribute this type of unsavory behavior to Republicans. However, devious tactics are rampant in the California State Senate race for District 7 (D7), where 5 of 6 of the candidates are Democrats, and most call themselves progressives. 


Over the past few weeks, your mailbox has likely been flooded with political campaign flyers, most of them from either Kathryn Lybarger’s or Jesse Arreguín’s campaign. Then, the campaign flyers claiming that Lybarger is a liar started to arrive. 


As a voter, it’s important to understand who’s paying for these advertisements. Campaign finance rules require that whoever paid for the ad is disclosed on the ad. Knowing who paid for the ad gives insight as to the underlying motivation for creating the ad in the first place. When a campaign flyer is paid for by a candidate’s campaign, it’s simple: the purpose is to get you to vote for that candidate. 


It gets more convoluted when political campaign flyers are funded as independent expenditures. Independent expenditure-only political committees, or “Super PACs”, are committees that may receive unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor unions, and other political action committees for the purpose of financing independent expenditures (i.e. ads, brochures, flyers).


The anti-Lybarger flyers were funded as an independent expenditure by the California Association of REALTORS, the California Apartment Association, and the California Building Industry Association. Not only did these groups fund the attacks against Lybarger, they also donated tens of thousands of dollars to Arreguín’s campaign. In addition, these Super PACs also funded at least three political campaign flyers encouraging voters to vote for Arreguín. Mind you, these mailers are no small expense. In fact, sending just one out to all of the voters in D7 costs over $400,000.


Then, less than two weeks before the March 5 primary, two new Lybarger flyers arrived in many constituent mailboxes. Instead of only claiming that Lybarger is a liar, these new flyers encourage voters to vote for Jovanka Beckles. 


Curious, huh? 


Things get even murkier when we realize that once again, these flyers are courtesy of the California Association of REALTORS and the California Building Industry Association. Though, now there’s a new entity, the Alliance of California’s Farmers and Ranchers, made up of some of the biggest players and trade associations in the California food industry. 


These real estate, building industry, and food Super PACs clearly want Arreguín to be our next state senator. So why are they encouraging voters now to vote for Beckles? 


Since the top two vote getters in the Mar 5 Primary will advance to the General election in November, perhaps they think it will be easier for Arreguín to beat Beckles in November? Maybe they’re trying to make it seem like Lybarger and Beckles are in a cat fight so Arreguín appears to be above the fray? Or possibly they’re trying to confuse voters by implying that Beckles, the only corporate free candidate in the race, is actually in the pocket of these Super PACs?


Whatever the reason, this is certainly a mendacious and conniving tactic to confuse and coerce voters. 


Don’t be bamboozled by any political ads, especially these. Also, know that the more flyers you receive from a particular candidate and from those who support a particular candidate, the more corporate and less grassroots that campaign is. True grassroots campaigns will never have a plethora of mailers.


These tactics are exactly who Jesse Arreguín is. He serves powerful, well resourced special interests and masquerades as a progressive. If you’re tired of these types of shenanigans, tell all your friends: Don’t vote for Jesse Arreguín for State Senate! I’ll be voting for Jovanka Beckles because she is genuine, fulfills her campaign promises, and has been a voice of and for the people for over 18 years. Whomever you decide to vote for, make sure you make the decision, not some real estate Super PAC pushing their own agenda.


Elana Auerbach is a mother, spouse, activist, and writer. She grew up in Atlanta and moved to SoCal before her senior year of high school. Elana fell in love with Berkeley when she road tripped up the coast with her parents in 1986. In 2006, after living in NY, London, and SF, she finally could call Berkeley home. One of her newest passions is Aikido. You’ll find her and her dog, Boba, in the off leash areas around town. 


Election pamphlets sent to voters below. Click to view full images and funders.

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