An attack mailer by a shadowy political action committee has lumped Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal into the same category as two of Stockton’s most embattled politicians.
This week residents received a mailer from a group calling itself Taxpayers for Good Government that accused Dhaliwal – who is currently running for his third term as mayor – of corruption alongside outgoing Manteca Unified trustee Sam Fant, who is running for Stockton City Council, and Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva.
Little is known about the group that has sent out attack mailers against Fant multiple times this election season since they haven’t filed any information about who is funding the effort or who is involved in its administration – both of which are required by law.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission is already investigating a mailer that the group distributed in June for violations, and another complaint may be coming from those who were targeted.
“Lathrop people don’t like negative campaigns – they rejected a similar campaign two years ago and I’m very confident they’ll reject this one too,” Dhaliwal said. “People who have their special interests are behind this, and this group is being investigated by the FPPC right now.
“We are running an issue-based, positive campaign and will continue to do just that.”
The flyer points out that Dhaliwal was fined $21,000 by the FPPC in 2014 – an investigation that was started after somebody affiliated with his opponent filed a complaint – for depositing campaign contributions into his personal checking account rather than through a single, committee controlled account that was required for a campaign of his size. The money was subsequently returned, and Dhaliwal paid the fine – chalking it up to an accounting mishap and not fully realizing the rules governing the campaign and his committee. He hired a professional accountant that is currently running his campaign with the assistance of a campaign consultant to ensure those issues don’t happen again.
As for Fant’s name on the mailer, it’s linked to not only the election fraud and conspiracy charges that he’s facing as a result of supposedly recruiting two people to run for the Manteca Unified school board in violation of residency requirements, but also his supposed involvement with an illegal internet gambling operation. A report filed in court against the mastermind of said network listed Fant’s name as an associate – claiming he sped to evade Stockton Police investigators who were tailing him and used “counter surveillance” measures.
He was never arrested or charged in that case.
“I think people are just sick and tired of dirty politics and they prefer to just to hear the candidates run on the issues,” said Fant – who is facing off with Jesus Andrade to represent South Stockton on the council. “Anytime somebody has to send out dirty political hit pieces that just lets me know that they’re worried and have a hard time conveying their own message. This is not the first, or the second, or the third time this group has sent out a mailer against me – it’s the fourth – and they have failed to report and disclose who is behind it and where the money comes from.
“People should be more concerned about big money and special interests behind the mailers who continuously break the law.”
Taxpayers for Good Government lists its P.O. Box in Stockton, but has filed none of the necessary disclosure paperwork to allow it to operate in good standing. The group maintains a Facebook page titled with its name and links a copy of the mailer in question as well as news stories from various publications, including The Bulletin, about the people the mailer targets.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.