Foes cry foul in race for Grossmont health board
Union Tribune (2004-10-29) Anne Krueger
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More Info: Grossmont Healthcare Board
, Local Politics
By Anne Krueger
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
October 29, 2004
says he wants to see change in the makeup of the Grossmont Healthcare District board
– and he's willing to spend $43,000 for it.
His opponents for three seats on the board say Stieringer may be violating the law by failing to disclose that he paid to include two other candidates in slate mailers sent to voters.
Two of Stieringer's opponents, Bob Yarris
and Dan Mc Millan
, say they plan to file a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
Stieringer, a board member since 1992, said he bought space on seven election mailers that support him and political newcomers Elizabeth Evans and John Maksim. The three were also featured together in a political advertisement that ran yesterday in The San Diego Union-Tribune
Stieringer said he didn't tell Evans and Maksim about the mailers, and the two said they weren't aware beforehand of the mailers or the ad.
Maksim, a paramedic and Grossmont College student, said he had his photo taken with Stieringer and Evans, but didn't know of any plans to use the picture in an election ad.
"I had no clue about it," he said. "To me, it was just kind of a good idea, because I'm not doing a whole lot as far as campaigning."
Evans said she found out about the Union Tribune
ad after a friend called to tell her her picture was in the paper.
"This is so crazy. This is so ridiculous," she said. "Give me a break."
The Grossmont Healthcare District board is responsible for overseeing operations at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, and each year awards about $1.5 million to health organizations in East County.
The 750-square-mile district covers a wide swath of East County, from the San Carlos neighborhood of San Diego to Pine Valley and Campo. Board members receive $100 a meeting for up to five meetings a month.
Stieringer, 63, is a government contracts consultant and La Mesa's city treasurer.
His most recent campaign finance filings show he lent his campaign $43,000 and has spent more than $40,000 on his race. He did not indicate any contributions to the other two candidates in his filing.
Stieringer said he bought space in the election mailers in the months before he filed for candidacy July 12. Therefore, he said, he was not a candidate when he made the purchases and is not required to list them as contributions to Maksim and Evans.
Stieringer said he purchased the space on the mailers as a campaign strategy to prevent his opponents from being included in the fliers.
He said the cost of the newspaper ad did not increase because he included the other two candidates.
"When I buy the space, they pretty much allow me to put in whatever I want," Stieringer said. "The price was not higher because I put these folks in here. I did not purchase this on their behalf."
A spokesman for the Fair Political Practices Commission said the agency does not comment on specific cases.
Maksim and Evans, a nurse, both filed campaign forms indicating they had received less than $1,000 in contributions.
In the 2000 election, Stieringer supported three other candidates and listed his contributions to their campaign on his election-finance filings. Since then, election law has changed and candidates are no longer allowed to contribute to other campaigns. Deborah Mc Elravy
, one of the candidates Stieringer supported in 2000, won a seat on the board and is now running for re-election. She said she and Stieringer had a falling out after she voted differently from him on several key issues.
"He thought he had a rubber stamp," McElravy said. "As soon as you vote in the opposite way as Jim Stieringer, you're finished."
Stieringer agreed that he has differences with McElravy and Yarris.
"Our board is not as collegial as it was," he said. "There are these antagonisms. Quite possibly, I contribute to this."
He said Yarris is raising questions about his campaign financing in retribution for a complaint Stieringer made to the Fair Political Practices Commission in 1993.
Stieringer had complained that Yarris and other board members had a conflict of interest because they received $500 a month for serving on the Sharp corporate board as representatives of the health-care district. The commission investigated and decided not to pursue enforcement, but issued a warning letter.