As happens all-too-often in the mainstream media, the Associated Press recently mischaracterized statements made by our California lobbyist and spokesperson, Craig DeLuz.
The AP story centered on an active veto referendum effort promoted by a Southern California man who seeks to put before California voters referendums on seven gun control bills recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
The same person who started the veto referenda campaign has also stated that he will (and perhaps already has) initiate a quixotic (and equally unlikely) recall campaign against Senate pro Tem Kevin de León, which would open the doors to serious risk for gun rights advocates.
Importantly, proponents of the referenda campaign have only about 63 days to collect over 365,000 valid signatures for each of the seven petitions, or about 3.5 Million signatures to qualify due to signature invalidation.
After consulting with our political law counsel at Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP, Firearms Policy Coalition’s policy team estimated that petition printing costs alone would run in the neighborhood of $250,000 per referendum effort, equating to roughly $1.75 Million in hard costs just to legally begin the petition gathering process.
Additionally, signature collection costs for this massive undertaking would likely exceed $10 Million, and the costs to manage and execute the campaign would likely land at around $250,000 plus tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars for the costs of legal and accounting work for campaign finance and tax law compliance.
As a “mandatory audit” committee, the “Veto Gunmageddon” veto referenda campaign committee will also be forced to undertake a grueling and expensive audit conducted by a special unit of the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) overseen by the powerful Fair Political Practices Commission. Any errors or omissions in its records, reporting, campaign execution, or bookkeeping could lead to serious legal penalties, including steep fines.
Moreover, even should one or more of the veto referendum petitions be successfully qualified, multiple FPC sources have strongly indicated that anti-gun billionaires and gun control advocates would almost certainly pour in tens of millions of their own dollars to fight the effort at the ballot box.
Even in the absence of billionaire-funded opposition efforts, the post-qualification campaign costs will likely exceed $15 Million, and could easily demand funding in the range of $20–50 Million.
In the AP story, DeLuz accurately stated that civil rights organizations, like Firearms Policy Coalition, are “membership[-supported] organizations that have limited resources and, in a state like California,” must “utilize those resources judiciously.”
And the California Rifle and Pistol Association recently commented that “succeeding through this referendum process is difficult.”
We agree with CRPA and will support the veto referenda campaign by directing anyone who is interested in participating in or supporting the campaign to the appropriate party.
DeLuz never told or indicated to the AP reporter that pro-gun groups were “not seriously considering signing on to the campaign,” and FPC has never and will never speak for any other organization without their express permission. We condemn the AP for falsely representing our views (and those of other pro-gun organizations) on the veto referendum currently active in California.
Firearms Policy Coalition will continue to fight for civil rights using every viable pathway and our robust team of expert civil and political lawyers, policy and political experts, grassroots engagement specialists, and the hard work of its members and supporters.