State Controller, Finance Director & Budget Chair Must Stop Taxpayer Funded Campaign Outreach Contract

Senate Republicans Call for an End to State Contract with Public Relations Firm Tied to Presidential Candidate
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Without legal authority and bypassing the state’s open bid contracting procedures, the California Secretary of State entered a $35 million agreement with a partisan public relations firm to conduct “voter outreach.” These state funds were intended to help with the administration of local county elections.

“We write to you to express significant concerns with the Secretary of State’s (SOS) recently reported contract to spend $35 million, ostensibly to provide voter outreach, through a firm widely known for its partisan history,” said Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), the Vice Chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, in their letter to decision makers yesterday. “This creates an obvious conflict of interest in the administration of these public funds, no matter the protestations from the SOS and the contracting firm that the money would be used in a nonpartisan manner.”

In a September 29 article from the Sacramento Bee, the Secretary of State’s office asserts that he is spending money “on the counties’ behalf.”

The letter from Senators Bates and Nielsen continues, “This explanation raises significant legal questions as to how the SOS can unilaterally decide it will spend money on behalf of all 58 counties. Thus far, we have seen no indication from counties that any of them in fact did ask the SOS to engage in the contract on their behalf.”

To read the letter in its entirety, please click here.

The image below was taken on September 29 from the public relations firm’s website:

Campaign Ad


Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) represents the 36th Senate District in the California Legislature, which covers South Orange County, North San Diego County, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Elected to the State Senate in January 2013, Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916.651.4004, or via email at