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Ventura County supervisor sues over obscene gift box from San Diego

Campaign cash OK to use in court battle to reveal sender, opines FPCC

The recall drive against Parks failed in September, 2021.
The recall drive against Parks failed in September, 2021.

Can a Ventura County supervisor legally use campaign money to sue a San Diego company called Dick at Your Door to force it to identify the sender of a chocolate penis during a nasty recall battle?

Yes, said the California Fair Political Practices Commission in a February 22 advice letter to Linda Parks: "This legal action is directly related to a political or governmental purpose as it arises out of your activities, duties and status as an elected officer and the recall effort of your elected position status.

"The box also included the message, 'Honorable Linda Parks, enjoy early retirement."

“Therefore, the attorney fees and costs in connection with this litigation are directly related to a political and governmental purpose pursuant to Section 89514 and the expenditure is within the lawful execution of the trust imposed by Section 89512."

"On June 9, 2021, while signatures were being gathered for the recall petition, you received a package at your personal residence, from an anonymous person sent through a company. The package contained a life-size chocolate penis in a box that says, “Congratulations! YOU DESERVE IT” on the outside, and other vulgar messages on the inside of the box.

"The box also included the message, 'Honorable Linda Parks, enjoy early retirement. Thank you, Casa Conejo residents' taped to the underside of the box. A separate card in the box stated, 'Confused? See if the sender left you a message” and provided the website and name of the company sending the package and messages.'

"You learned that company that sent the package is a limited liability company in San Diego. The business has refused to disclose the sender to you. You believe that the anonymous sender chose a novelty item that crosses the line from free speech to threatening a female public official with implied sexual violence. You state that it is without question a dangerous time to be female and a public servant and you note recent harassment events of female public officials covered by the news media."

"The package and message referenced the campaign to recall you from your elective office and occurred during the recall attempt. You believe this was sent to you because you are a female elected official. You are concerned that the publicity around this event may chill others from running for public office. You think it is important that the identity of the sender be known for purposes of transparency, for example if the sender is a major donor in local campaigns, as it may affect the person’s influence in political campaigns.

"You are also currently receiving anonymous harassing text messages regarding a particular development project and think this action may have been intended to intimidate and dissuade you in performing your duties regarding decisions about the project.

The recall drive against Parks failed when backers fell short of gathering 11,067 signatures by mid-September of last year, according to VCStar.com.

"Recall backers kicked off the drive to oust Parks in early April, largely because she had cracked down on local businesses and a church that disregarded restrictions the county had imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19," the paper reported September 14, 2021.

"Petitioners attempted to collect signatures as late as Monday at a voting center in Newbury Park. Lunn said sheriff's deputies were called after the signature-gatherers refused to stop approaching voters and again when a signature-gatherer followed a poll supervisor into the voting center. Deputies talked to the group and others at the center at Newbury Park High and determined no crime had been committed, Sheriff's Capt. Dean Cook said."

On March 15, Parks filed suit against Dick at Your Door, Rain Parade LLC, an allegedly related entity, and two San Diego men said to be principals of the business, in Ventura County Superior Court.

"On or about June 5, Defendants and each of them caused to be delivered to Plaintiff's home in Ventura County a 'chocolate Dick,' an offensive 5-inch chocolate phallus with no redeeming social qualities, whatsoever," the complaint says.

According to the Ventura County Superior Court's online registry, the most recent action in the case was "Proof of Service of 30-day Summons & Complaint" mailing filed by Parks April 19.

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The recall drive against Parks failed in September, 2021.
The recall drive against Parks failed in September, 2021.

Can a Ventura County supervisor legally use campaign money to sue a San Diego company called Dick at Your Door to force it to identify the sender of a chocolate penis during a nasty recall battle?

Yes, said the California Fair Political Practices Commission in a February 22 advice letter to Linda Parks: "This legal action is directly related to a political or governmental purpose as it arises out of your activities, duties and status as an elected officer and the recall effort of your elected position status.

"The box also included the message, 'Honorable Linda Parks, enjoy early retirement."

“Therefore, the attorney fees and costs in connection with this litigation are directly related to a political and governmental purpose pursuant to Section 89514 and the expenditure is within the lawful execution of the trust imposed by Section 89512."

"On June 9, 2021, while signatures were being gathered for the recall petition, you received a package at your personal residence, from an anonymous person sent through a company. The package contained a life-size chocolate penis in a box that says, “Congratulations! YOU DESERVE IT” on the outside, and other vulgar messages on the inside of the box.

"The box also included the message, 'Honorable Linda Parks, enjoy early retirement. Thank you, Casa Conejo residents' taped to the underside of the box. A separate card in the box stated, 'Confused? See if the sender left you a message” and provided the website and name of the company sending the package and messages.'

"You learned that company that sent the package is a limited liability company in San Diego. The business has refused to disclose the sender to you. You believe that the anonymous sender chose a novelty item that crosses the line from free speech to threatening a female public official with implied sexual violence. You state that it is without question a dangerous time to be female and a public servant and you note recent harassment events of female public officials covered by the news media."

"The package and message referenced the campaign to recall you from your elective office and occurred during the recall attempt. You believe this was sent to you because you are a female elected official. You are concerned that the publicity around this event may chill others from running for public office. You think it is important that the identity of the sender be known for purposes of transparency, for example if the sender is a major donor in local campaigns, as it may affect the person’s influence in political campaigns.

"You are also currently receiving anonymous harassing text messages regarding a particular development project and think this action may have been intended to intimidate and dissuade you in performing your duties regarding decisions about the project.

The recall drive against Parks failed when backers fell short of gathering 11,067 signatures by mid-September of last year, according to VCStar.com.

"Recall backers kicked off the drive to oust Parks in early April, largely because she had cracked down on local businesses and a church that disregarded restrictions the county had imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19," the paper reported September 14, 2021.

"Petitioners attempted to collect signatures as late as Monday at a voting center in Newbury Park. Lunn said sheriff's deputies were called after the signature-gatherers refused to stop approaching voters and again when a signature-gatherer followed a poll supervisor into the voting center. Deputies talked to the group and others at the center at Newbury Park High and determined no crime had been committed, Sheriff's Capt. Dean Cook said."

On March 15, Parks filed suit against Dick at Your Door, Rain Parade LLC, an allegedly related entity, and two San Diego men said to be principals of the business, in Ventura County Superior Court.

"On or about June 5, Defendants and each of them caused to be delivered to Plaintiff's home in Ventura County a 'chocolate Dick,' an offensive 5-inch chocolate phallus with no redeeming social qualities, whatsoever," the complaint says.

According to the Ventura County Superior Court's online registry, the most recent action in the case was "Proof of Service of 30-day Summons & Complaint" mailing filed by Parks April 19.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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