April 6, 2018
Napa County Superior Court ordered that five objectively false and misleading statements in Measure C opponents’ official ballot arguments be removed from the ballot pamphlet and replaced with modified language. Ballot arguments appear in Voter Information Pamphlets that are printed and mailed out by the County Registrar of Voters. Because these documents are printed and distributed using taxpayer funds, individuals have the right to challenge ballot arguments that they believe are objectively false. Free speech protects persuasive language, but it does not allow campaigns to present false information to voters. Per state law, the court can only approve changes to ballot arguments that have been shown to be objectively false and misleading
The lawsuits against the misleading ballot arguments were filed by the San Francisco law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP. This is the same law firm that drafted Napa County Measure J and Measure P, and successfully defended Measure J up through the California Supreme Court. As part of the settlement, the campaign against Measure C agreed to pay $54,000 for the Yes on C campaign’s legal fees. This payment comes after Measure C’s opponents hired one of the country’s largest law firms in a failed effort to intimidate the grassroots Yes on C campaign.