Yes on I Offering Voters Gift Cards for Casting Ballots

A photograph posted on the "No on Measure I" Facebook page that purports to be a portion of a get-out-the-vote call script. Courtesy/No on Measure I
A photograph posted on the “No on Measure I” Facebook page that purports to be a portion of a get-out-the-vote call script. Courtesy/No on Measure I

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.

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

24 thoughts on “Yes on I Offering Voters Gift Cards for Casting Ballots

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  1. Every single last one of you people should be ashamed of yourself on both sides. Acting like little kids. Doctors on both sides behaving like children. The people suffering is people that need the hospital. And don’t try and tell me these doctors didn’t put you people up to this we all know they did because they hate the other doctors GROW UP!!

  2. Nicole, you have anger issues and like your boss take it out on the citizens in this district when things don’t go your way. The educated are grown ups whom see the lies they are being fed by the hospital management and leadership. Enough is enough.

    The facts, Hcca/Trmc engage in these behaviors to get the vote no matter the cost tells this community we are in serious trouble. This is the true behavior of our hospital leadership and management. Pretty ugly.

    The leadership and management of the hospital lack integrity, moral values, ethics, honesty, accountability, and transperancy. Look at all the deperate attempts to LIE to get the vote. Flyers are now attacking anyone whom they are currently angry with.

    Honestly, cut the for profit conglomerate’s management fee to fair market value and the district wouldn’t have to give them over $61 million in fees for the next 15 years. Fair market value is less than half a million a year for this one star rated hospital. Look at the savings long term and no bond money from district taxpayers is needed.

  3. I went to Zumwalt Park to observe the Bring Your Own Ballot event on August 6th. The Yes on I campaign had free hot dogs, free school supplies, and a raffle for a $100 gift card for groceries for voters. I saw two people bring their ballots to a table manned by a volunteer wearing a Yes on I t-shirt. Their ballots were not completed and I heard the volunteer instruct them how to complete the ballot. They then left the event without ballot in hand and did not walk over to the post office. In other types of elections electioneering is kept away from the voting booth. In this type of election you are asked to bring your ballot to an event representing one side of the issue and you are encouraged to do your voting at a table covered with one sided material decorated with signs, then give your ballot to a volunteer wearing a Yes on I shirt. Then you get fed, offered free gifts, and a chance to win $100? I’m not sure this is the way democracy is supposed to work. I filed a complaint form, photos, and the flier with the Secretary of State Investigative Section. They investigate violations of Election Code 18520-18524. The FPPC website says they do not investigate election fraud. I am not against the exchange of ideas and then letting the voters decide on that basis, but paying for ballots is out of bounds and smacks of desperation.

  4. From the Calif Election Code (apparently a mystery to the DA’s Office)

    18521. A person shall not directly or through any other person
    receive, agree, or contract for, before, during or after an election,
    any money, gift, loan, or other valuable consideration, office,
    place, or employment for himself or any other person because he or
    any other person:
    (a) Voted, agreed to vote, refrained from voting, or agreed to
    refrain from voting for any particular person or measure.
    (b) Remained away from the polls.
    (c) Refrained or agreed to refrain from voting.
    (d) Induced any other person to:
    (1) Remain away from the polls.
    (2) Refrain from voting.
    (3) Vote or refrain from voting for any particular person or
    measure.
    Any person violating this section is punishable by imprisonment
    pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for 16
    months or two or three years.

  5. GROWN UP AND EDUCATED

    I don’t have a boss I am my own boss/ business owner but thank you for trying to make people believe I work at the hospial very sliy of you. If your educated you know and are fully aware of the issues that have surrounded this hospita for way over a decade long before many other arrived.

    The NO on I group clearly have ONE agenda and it’s not a positive one. I think each and everyone of you are childish and selfish. From speaking with friends and family this Campaign was started out of anger and no good comes from anger. The people will speak when the time is due and I hope the community will still have a hospital in the end.

  6. Look at DA Tim Ward FPPC filings a major contributor to his campaign was Mancebo also the MAJOR to the YES on I. Ward signed letter supporting HCCA. Not hard to connect the dots. Big conflict of interest.

  7. Jack who cares what Tim Ward and Mancebo do with their money and or their endorsements regardless you can’t make everyone happy and your choice is your choice do what makes you happy , but why talk negative about people there’s no need. I check out the NO on I page and it’s very negative and depressing to read.

  8. The script does not mention Measure I once. It encourages Voter registration. There is nothing illegal about that and the entire community should be supportive of any effort that encourages democracy, and if you don’t well that speaks for itself. For those folks calling into question integrity, honesty, morality or transparency, name calling, attacks on character will get you no where fast, except a defamation suit as you have nothing to substantiate your character assassinations. I work for HCCA and I am proud to work along side some of the finest Healthcare Administrators in the country and I have just about had enough of being maligned by a group who simply have had a past opportunity on the Board or an oversight committee or past employees. Tulare either wants a hospital or it doesn’t. It’s just that simple. I haven’t heard one single past board member or involved parties accept any level of responsibility for allowing TRMC to get to the point it was two and a half years ago. I want to believe past Board members,oversight members and previous administrators made decisions with the best information they had, but the past is the past and Tulare needs to move into the future. Some have criticized Dr Benzeevi relentlessly, he’s from out of town etc etc, well you’re right he doesn’t have to be here he CHOOSES to and believes that access and quality of care should be for all not a select few. I am proud to be part of this Leadership Team that has turned the Hospital around, I work side by side with some of the best and brightest Healthcare Administrators in the country Including the CFO and CEO. Tulareans should be grateful Dr Benzeevi brought the team here. I came out of retirement to assist in this effort, I don’t need the job, and for most of us it isn’t a job, it’s the passion for Tulare that keeps us focused on delivering on a promise to complete the hospital tower that was made to the community years ago.

    • Samantha…….since the only thing on this ballot is Measure I that’s a given. Since everyone gives Deanne the hardest time, do you know she’s not even been on the board since 2008? Maybe you should go into the Valley Voices webpage and check out the meeting minutes, and oversight committee minutes. They are quite eye opening. You throw the word ‘Democracy’ around……The company is not a democracy; decisions are made by a board of directors, not the workers. Aren’t you the gal from up north? Let’s be honest……the only reason the hospital is in the black is because of reimbursements now rolling in at a faster pace and a higher amount. Benzeevi didn’t create any ‘secret sauce’…..it is called Obamacare…..ACA, which finally got some of the kinks out and is paying better. But as we see across the nation insurance companies want to pull out of the program completely and it’s going to cost us lots more money. With all the problems of the past, why would any board give a private company control and a contract for 15 years. Four year contracts are bad enough for this towns hospital. Do you understand that HCCA may be putting into the Tower right now but 60 days after the Bond passes they get all they’ve put into it back. Res. 847….The board seated since 2012 gave our hospital away. Period. It’s in the contract. I don’t care what Benzeevi says in public……by golly he’s going to go by his extremely generous contract. You want us to believe he will give up his $3 million a year job? For that kind of salary our hospital should be bringing in $50 million a year. We are still on the road to ruin. Why is HCCA so secretive. We should not have to be going through an attorney in LA to get information. You really need to go back and read the minutes. You will see that Dr Kamboj was always safe guarding the hospital. Kumar can’t stand for anyone else to have an opinion or facts. Power does that to people.

  9. “I haven’t heard on single past board member…..blah blah” As I recall Dr. Kumar has been on these past boards. We are all Tulareans and American with our own right to our opinions but when we voice them, we are condemned and called names even threatened with letters from HCCA’s LA lawyers. All of these rants by the yes people made me decide to vote NO. Now I can relax and toss out all the dozens of flyers and crud that comes in my mail and ignore all the newspapers. I’ll just wait for my threatening letter from their lawyer. Oh yes a lot of these comments remind of the ranting of a local dentist (maybe using a different profile). Everybody needs a hospital just not this way. No matter what, our hospital is here to stay!

  10. I voted no on our measure H and I urge Tulare to vote no on I. Your hospital has just been rated as one of the worst in Ca. Sounds like construction is the least of your problems. There seems to be no end to the political dishonesty in this county.

    • I urge you to Vote YES on I the hospital is finally becoming the hospital we need for this community so many past board members and administration did the hospital wrong and now they have a company that has turned this hosputal around even after a group of doctors tried to shut it down by not admitting their patients there. My mom has been there a few times and was treated with respect and kindness. We were updated daily on her progress I even missed the doctor one morning and he was kind enough to call me on my cell.

      VOTE YES ON I to complete the Tower and make it earthquake safe because regardless of what anyone says the facts are this hospital will close if this TOWER is not completed.

  11. Everyone has a right to their own opinion but not to their own facts. It is exactly that emotionalism and wishful thinking of those opposed to measure I that sank our hospital. These same people were in charge and they messed up. Now they want to continue to mess it up for the rest of us. What have these no people accomplished when they were in power? Failed hospital, Tulare county is at the bottom of the ladder in health, poorest counties and we are proud of that? We now have professional managers who have fixed our hospital and instead of being grateful, we are dissing them? No wonder Tulare is the armpit of the county. Wake up before its too late. I wonder what all you naysayers will say when our hospital goes by the wayside like Corcoran, Lindsay, and Dinuba and our economy tanks. I don’t give a %^$%&^ how many mailers we get. we should vote yes not because of what people on either side say but because it is the right thing to do

      • At least Porterville doesn’t have a hospital bond for 30 more years of property tax payments. Also, Porterville is growing and has many more places than the city of Tulare.
        Reminds me of Visalia in the types of stores that have been added in recent years.

    • ASK SHERRIE BELL WHY SHE DIDN’T READ THE HCCA CONTRACT.
      ASK SHERRIE BELL WHY HER FIRST ACTION WAS TO CANCEL THE FORENSIC AUDIT THAT KAMBOJ, SMITH AND MCPHEDRIGE SET UP.
      ASK SHERRIE BELL WHERE IS THE PAPERWORK FOR THE OTHER BIDS FOR PARTNERSHIS WENT.
      ASK SHERRIE BELL HOW SHE FEELS ABOUT NOT BEING ALLOWED INTO THE HOSPITAL WITHOUT PRIOR AUTHORIZATION BY HCCA.
      ASK SHERRIE BELL WHY SHE SIGNED A CONTRACT THAT STATES HCCA HAS THE LAST WORD ON OPERATIONS AND BUILDING OF THE TOWER.
      ASK SHERRIE BELL WHY THEY CHOSE A MANAGEMENT TEAM WITH NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE, WHO WAS NOT EVEN FORMED WHEN THE OFFER WAS MADE AND WHY WAS IT IN-HOUSE.
      IN HER FIRST MONTH ALL OF THAT WAS IN HER LAP AS SHE WAS CHOSEN CHAIR OF THE BOARD.

    • You must be a renter. You want facts? How about TRMC being given the lowest possible rating in a report recently? Maybe the place should close. No more money for failure!!

  12. Juan, you say Tulare is the armpit of the County? Wow, you dissed the area I grew up in. Yes, Tulare is one of the poorest counties in this State. Please say how it is the right thing to do when the management fee is so high for such a small hospital?

    Look at the numbers. We have the highest hospital taxes in the County! We also have the lowest rated hospital according to the latest CMS ratings.

    Having misspent $85 million and asking for $55 million more without plans and documentation is wrong. Paying in excess of $3,000,000 a year in management fees is wrong too.

    The only people saying the hospital will close is yes on I. I feel like our hospital is being held hostage. If we don’t vote yes, then it will close according to ALL the yes on I advertising. Seismic regulations are in the year 2030.

    How can the poorest county have the highest property tax rates for its hospital? Also the highest paid management fees of even major hospitals? I don’t think it is the right thing to do without all sides being fair and not just giving money over to a private for profit conglomerate.

    The management company needs to do the right thing by lowering their fees and people may reconsider when actual plans for the bond are made available to the public.

  13. Keep in mind that a lot of the “No” people were on the Hospital Board when the $85 million was spent ineffectively. The “No” group offers no viable solution to our hospital’s problems. When the original $85 million bond was voted on, it was stated that additional bonds would need to be passed in order to complete the hospital’s projected $120 million project. I simply do not understand why everyone is so surprised that additional monies are needed.

    • I simply do not understand why everyone is so surprised that a lot of “NO” people have never been employed at TRMC and have grave misgivings about giving this current Hospital Board access to more of our tax dollars. They simply cannot be trusted…..and I also do not understand why you don’t care about the reasons behind our misgivings. I also do not understand why you minimize or just plain deny the viable solutions brought forth by many of Tulare’s most competent and tested community leaders.

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