A new series of radio ads (airing on KMJ) targets Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) over his vote for Senate Bill 1, the gas tax.
Produced by Stutzman Public Affairs of Sacramento, the ad criticizes Arambula’s vote. “Voting to raise gas taxes on Fresno families means that Joaquin Arambula isn’t thinking about us. …
“But he has learned how to think like a politician. According to The Bee, Arambula is a regular customer of a Sacramento tailor who makes $1,200 suits.”
The piece then makes fun of Arambula’s waistline.
About the Gas Tax Vote
The gas tax needed a two-thirds majority vote in both houses and received just that. Arambula was one of 54 assemblymen to pass SB 1 in an April vote (it barely passed the Senate by a 27-11 margin).
The gas tax, which goes into effect Wednesday (Nov. 1), will raise the price per gallon by 12 cents (and 20 cents per gallon and 4% sales tax for diesel). The bill will also raise the vehicle license fee by at least $25 per vehicle (more for cars with higher market value). The bill is expected to raise $52 billion over 10 years for transportation projects.
“This is an effort by a broad cross-section of the agricultural industry throughout the entire state of California to put legislators on notice that they cannot continue to vote against the interests of farmers and farmworkers without the industry pushing back,” said Rob Stutzman, of his eponymously-named public relations firm, in a news release.
Who’s Behind the Ad
The ad is paid for by Family Farmers Working for a Better California. According to the Secretary of State, the group was known as the Western Growers Independent Expenditure Committee. It should be noted that campaign finance forms list the current name as “Family Farmers Working for a Better California, with major support by Western Growers Association.” In the ad’s identification, the Western Growers part is left off.
Under its corporate filings, the group was registered April 19, 2017, by Jason Resnick, with an address in Irvine. That address is the same as the address for Western Growers, a member-driven farm advocacy group whose stated mission “is to enhance the competitiveness and profitability of our members.”
Resnick is listed as the group’s vice president and general counsel.
Although no financial information is available for 2017, in 2016, the group raised $25,000 from political action committees representing the Western Agricultural Processors Association, California Cotton Ginners and Growers, California Fresh Fruit Association, California Citrus Mutual, California Dairies, Inc. and Western Plant Health Association. None of those groups supported Arambula in the election.
Two of those groups supported Arambula’s 2016 opponent, Clint Olivier. Citrus Mutual donated $3,000, and California Dairies gave $2,000.
A similar radio ad is running against Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella).
“I’m focused on delivering for the Valley and making sure we get our fair share from Sacramento. SB 1 will bring over $500 million to Fresno County,” Arambula said in an e-mail to GV Wire. “This money will pay for desperately needed road improvements to every highway in the county and for our local streets and roads. It will also create thousands of well-paying jobs.”
GV Wire asked the Stutzman group for more information about the motivations of the ad. The group declined to say anything more. GV Wire also reached out to Western Growers but received no response.
Stutzman Opposed Trump
The Sacramento-based Stutzman worked with two other consultants in an unsuccessful bid to derail Donald Trump from winning the Republican presidential nomination last year.
“Why defeat Trump? Because he will lose in a historic landslide to Hillary Clinton in November. Trump will be the most unpopular nominee in history,” Stutzman wrote April 16, 2016, in an op-ed for The Sacramento Bee.
Stutzman, who is a former aide to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, played a key role in the defeat of Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s bid for the governorship of Louisiana in 2015, according to National Journal.
Breitbart’s version of the story appeared under the headline “A GOP Consultant Helps Louisiana Elect Dem Governor.”