BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – When Louis Gill, the former executive director of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, announced he was entering politics to run for Congress, the campaign contributions started rolling in.
Eight weeks later he changed course, switching from Congress – and a challenge to House Minority Leader Kevin Mccarthy – to the seat on the Kern County Board of Supervisors that Mike Maggard says he will vacate next year.
Which raises the question – what becomes of campaign donations that were intended for Louis Gill the congressional candidate?
Can they be applied to Gill’s supervisorial race? Gill himself is trying to get an answer to that question from the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
We know this – candidates have a great deal of leeway when it comes to shifting campaign donations from one race to another – for example, from a primary election to the campaign fund of a general election, or from one state race to another, such as state Assembly to state senate.
Candidates can even disperse campaign funds from their own treasure chest to that of another candidate, which is one reason Kevin McCarthy is so popular among his fellow Republicans. Through the third quarter of 2020, McCarthy accepted $9.3 million in campaign donations and gave $7 million of it to other Republicans and Republican organizations. So those types of fund transfers are legal and common.
But what are the rules when it comes to campaign fund transfers from a federal race – like Congress – to a nonfederal race – like county supervisor?
Gill has asked the state Fair Political Practices Commission. He says he will happily abide by the appropriate rules and protocols.
“We’re absolutely gonna take care of any donor,” Gill said. “I will tell you that many people have called and they’ve asked me to move the money into the supervisorial campaign. I’ve had people calling me wanting to make donations. I can tell you that we haven’t done any of that. We’ve told everybody you’ve got to hold on, we’re going to make sure we do this 100 percent by the rules.”
Gill raised more than $100,000 in just over a week after announcing his intention to take on McCarthy. The exact amount isn’t certain because the reporting period hasn’t closed – and Gill said none of those funds will be transferred to his supervisorial race until he gets clarification.
Democrats Marissa Wood and Bruno Amato are still in the race against Kevin McCarthy and the newly redrawn 20th Congressional District. Gill’s opponents in the 3rd District supervisors race are Brian Smith and, unofficially for now, Maggard aide Jeff Flores.