Voting in Tulare’s upcoming hospital election could prove a lucrative proposition, thanks to incentives offered by groups allied with the Yes on I effort.
Fliers circulated last week for an August 6 event that encouraged potential voters to come down to Tulare’s Zumwalt Park with a completed ballot for a chance to win $100 in groceries.
Dropping the ballot in the mailbox across the street, the flier said, would enter the voters in a drawing to win $100 worth of groceries from a local grocery store. The Yes on I group dubbed it a “Bring Your Own Ballot” party. The flier also advertised free school supplies and free food/refreshments.
More recently, the Citizens for Hospital Accountability group, organizing as No on Measure I, posted on its Facebook page a photo of a telemarketing script purportedly used by volunteers working for the Yes on I campaign.
The efforts have not only ruffled feathers of those opposed to the bond, they stated, but also those who are supportive of it.
“This script was provided to our campaign from someone that states they don’t like what it is being done to pass this bond,” the caption above the photograph reads.
The script instructs callers to state that they are calling on behalf of Tulare Regional Medical Center, encouraging the recipient to vote, or register to vote, in the upcoming bond election. The registration deadline is August 15.
“If you are not a registered voter, I am offering transportation to the registrar office to register and cast your vote,” the script reads. “If you are a registered voter we can take you to cast your vote today.”
“Those that cast their vote will be entered into a drawing for a $100 lottery ticket,” the script continues. “We will draw a total of 100 of these tickets.”
When asked whether funds from the Tulare Local Healthcare District, the legal entity that owns TRMC, or funds from HCCA, the company that runs Tulare Regional Medical Center, were being used for these efforts, hospital officials stated that “no district funds are used for any work whatsoever related to the campaign.”
Hospital officials also stated “no district employee is used for any work whatsoever related to the campaign.” The Voice reached out to the Yes on Measure I campaign, but did not receive a return call by publication time.
Officials with the Tulare County Registrar of Voters’ office stated that they have received a number of complaints about the “Bring Your Own Ballot” flier and the caller script; they stated that they are not an enforcement agency, but that they had turned the complaints over to the Secretary of State’s office and the Tulare County District Attorney’s office.
Officials from the District Attorney’s office said while they had been contacted, they do not currently have an investigation or a formal complaint open over the get-out-the-vote efforts.
“We didn’t receive an investigation, or a case, or a formal complaint,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Daniel Underwood said. “We did receive a copy of the flier.”
“I spoke personally with someone from the [registrar’s] office who handed me a copy of the flier for the Saturday event,” Underwood said. “We advised them that we thought any complaints should be formally forwarded to the FPPC [Fair Political Practices Commission] in Sacramento.”
The Voice is still attempting to reach out to the Fair Political Practices Commission, and will provide an update when it receives a response.