This video posted on YouTube today shows former school trustee Stephen Cassidy and San Leandro School Board President Mike Katz donning campaign t-shirts at an event last Saturday organized by the Roosevelt Elementary PTA. The inclusion at the beginning of the video featuring the event flyer and advertising an opportunity to “dunk” politicians may be the crux of the problem for both and others. Cassidy is running for mayor this November. Katz is running for re-election. Not shown, but included on the flyer is Lance James, who is a candidate for the school board.
Opponents of Cassidy and Katz point to two regulations. Below is a PTA bylaw against partisanship:
All PTA bylaws, whether national, state, district/region, council, or local, require the association to be nonpartisan in that it cannot support or oppose a political candidate. However, PTAs may propose, support, or oppose legislation needed to achieve the objects, provided that those efforts do not exceed the limitations placed upon such organizations under the federal tax laws.
While a possible violation of the PTA bylaw is straightforward and could possibly bring the school principal or superintendent into the fray, the FPPC guideline under “Misuse of Public Resources” is open to legal interpretation
The Political Reform Act prohibits public financing of campaigns, except for elections in charter cities and counties. In addition, laws outside the Act prohibit the use of public resources, such as office equipment, staff time, etc., for campaign or personal purposes. Government Code Sec. 54964 prohibits an officer, employee or consultant of a local agency from expending or authorizing the expenditure of any local agency funds to support or oppose a ballot measure or a candidate.
It is believed at least one candidate has already explored a cursory inquiry into filing charges against Cassidy, Katz and the school district.