Democratic Party Embargo of Dodson for Board of Equalization Support is BROKEN!!!


One of the saddest things I’ve seen in California Democratic politics — and as long-time readers know, I’ve seen a whole lot of them — is the California Democratic Party’s bug-eyed and iron-fisted endorsement of nominally Democratic incumbent Mike Schaefer in the Board of Equalization District 4 race. He is facing David Dodson — who is not only a better Democrat, but also is frankly a better representative of the better traditional Republican values such as fighting government waste and self-serving corruption.

The “bend the knee!” embargo of Dodson endorsements from party Democrats is so hideous — Schaefer has a documented history (seriously, read that link) of being a slumlord, spouse abuser, racial troll, and suspended (and disbarred) lawyer — that I’ve been shocked that it has persisted this long without serious internal challenge.

Persisted until now, that is. The dam has finally been breached. And the one who has done so is not just any old Democrat, but former San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher — the incoming head of the California Labor Federation. And the California Labor Federation DID just endorse Dodson!

See! All he needed is a few huge endorsements to make him happy!

The glimmer of Gonzalez Fletcher‘s opposition to her fellow San Diego county politician Schaefer already existed in 2018, when he was the ersatz Democratic opponent to Republican Joel Anderson in the runoff. She pointedly refused to endorse him — “just don’t do it,” she said of his race — in a otherwise full roster of Democratic endorsements. But it’s hard for a Democratic politician to endorse a Republican against even a “Democrat” whose party affiliation seems merely opportunistic in a Democratic state.

But this year, Schaefer is running against a much better Democrat — and she has taken a louder proactive stand.

Gonzalez Fletcher has not, so far as I can tell, personally endorsed Dodson — I suspect that in her new position personal endorsements are not common — but she has posted a plaintive cry to her party colleagues — few if any of whom seem to know Schaefer as well as she does — to oppose his endorsement.

Here’s what she wrote earlier this year:

I’m proud to have again voted against [Schaefer’s] endorsement. What are we doing Democrats? This is an embarrassment to our party & our process. Sometimes you have to say NO!

And she has recently followed it up with this:

A piece of news that got lost in the Labor Fed Convention this week: I’m really proud to say that @CaliforniaLabor chose to endorse @Dodson4BOE. While it’s usually easier to go with a so-called “friendly incumbent” — it’s always better to stand on principle.

That is not a simple “I prefer this candidate” endorsement. That’s a “this is a matter of principle!” endorsement!

Other Labor groups have followed suit. (Some may have preceded the Cal Labor Fed; the endorsements don’t come to me time-stamped.) These are from his website:

SEIU California has endorsed Dodson, as have SEIU-UHW, SEIU 521 and some leaders from SEIU 1000. So has the Inland Empire Labor Fed.

For left/progressive voters, Dodson also has the endorsements of Progressive Democrats of America-CA and of Courage California, as well as prominent progressive South County activist Octavia Tuohey and her family.

Young? San Diego Young Democrats and the young Chair of the Anaheim Democratic Club have also endorsed him.

As for the Democratic Party itself: I hesitate to say which Democratic organizations in Orange County, San Diego County, and the Inland Empire are now talking to, hearing from, and individually resolving to support Dodson. I don’t want to provoke party leaders like California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks and Orange County Democratic Party Chair Ada Briceño to come down against anyone for going against even an ill-conceived party endorsement (that link is to Breitbart News, just to show how giddy it made them) in a low-profile race. (It’s especially questionable because Schaefer hired then-San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Will Rodriguez-Kennedy and paid him lots of public money primarily to ensure that he would be able to get the party endorsement this year — and then dumped him right after the endorsement was obtained. Rodriguez-Kennedy did have some ethical charges against him, but they already would have been known to Schaefer’s office.)

I do have to wonder how these party leaders — both also Labor leaders! — personally feel about going against the California Labor Fed on this. Maybe there’s hope for lenience! For Briceño, there’s the added issue that 84-year-old Schaefer has been railing against translation of minutes from Board of Equalization meetings, and other official official documents and publications — into common California languages including Spanish and Vietnamese — claiming it is unnecessary. (It is actually required by law.) He also publicly resented having to print large font versions of such documents and records. (Actually, that too is required by law, in that case it’s the Public Disabilities Act.) And, Ada: he is also documented as repeatedly referring to Black Americans as “Afros”! Maybe time for some leniency for those who are disgusted by this?


Conservatives and moderates who appreciate good governance may be interested in the personal testimonials listed on Dodson’s page. Here are some examples with — because I really want to be fair here! — my critical comments about them:

Perri Pendleton, President, Women of the Wells (charitable organization promoting water security):

I feel the need to promote my friend of 40 years, David Dodson. … He has been a career public servant for 30 years in Southern California. Property tax has been his life’s work and with his knowledge, experience & integrity, he is the one most qualified to guide the agency forward. We don’t need another career politician just phoning it in!

I feel the need to correct a couple of Ms. Pendleton’s points. First, Mike Schaefer is not a “career politician” — he was elected to the San Diego City Council decades ago, then ran for a passel of offices without success, and then won this race four years ago. That’s really not much of a “career.” Second, Schaefer has not been “just phoning it in.” When there are hearings up north, he has taken every opportunity to go up there at the state’s expense, enjoy lavish accommodations, as well as collecting a yummy per diem!

Jonathan Mason, Recruitment Manager:

It is my privilege to recommend David Dodson. David is uniquely qualified for this office due to his 30 years experience within the State Board of Equalization Property Tax office. … [He] is not a career politician out for his own personal interests. He is genuinely focused on supporting the individual constituents of the great communities that make up our district. I have had the pleasure of knowing David for almost 40 years. He is a dedicated and loyal family man, friend, and neighbor [whose] service to the State, local communities, and Coast Guard have always been a testimony to his commitment to everyone.

Again, I do not think that it’s fair to call Schaefer a “career politician.” After he departed the San Diego City Council in 1971, and until age 80, he would more appropriately have been considered a “has-been.” Furthermore, careers generally don’t start in one’s ninth decade. Also, I have added an Oxford Comma.

John Gjata, Product & Project Manager:

If you ever wanted to elect someone for office that is not a typical politician, then David Dodson is your guy. Honest, conscientious, experienced, and knowledgeable, he has worked in the office that oversees your property tax rolls for no less than 30 years, serves in the military, [is] family/churchgoing man, and old-school surfer.”

Again, I think that Schaefer is no less of a not-typical politician, in that he has been arrested, jailed, convicted of spousal abuse, had penalties imposed upon him as a slumlord on both coasts, and much more. THAT is atypical of politicians! Military service, dedication to one’s area of expertise in the projected office, being a good family man (or woman), and even surfing are less unusual than one might think! Also: added another Oxford comma.

Margaret McNeil, Small Business Owner, San Diego:

I’ve known David for over 30 years. He’s someone who is hardworking and dedicated to the Board of Equalization, and he has so much experience being a career civil servant and always working to [do] everything in his power to better the system. David really is the only qualified candidate.

I’d say that while Dodson is the better qualified candidate, Schaefer is an adult resident of California over the age of 18, and that makes him formally qualified. Also, David Dodson is not “always working” to do everything in his power to better the system, because sometimes he sleeps.

George Gastil, Lemon Grove City Council Member:

David Dodson is a career public servant with no agenda other than serving the people of this vast and diverse district. I encourage everyone to learn more about him — I think you will also see that he is the solid choice for Board of Equalization

I must note that David does have an agenda other than serving the people: surfing and attending church are clearly part of it. And it is unfair to say that he is “the” solid choice in this election: while Schaefer may have a higher proportion of liquid and gas in him, he too would technically be categorized as a “solid.”

Mike Ash, Board of Equalization (Retired):

I worked with and for David Dodson for 13.68 years. It was a pleasure and an honor to serve with him. His knowledge and experience in all matters related to business and property taxes is immense. As a boss he was calm and patient; and he listened. And more than anything, he understood that “Equalization” means serving the people. He is exactly the kind of leader we need working for us and without doubt the most qualified.

This is a good effort, but frankly if you’re going to quantify the time of working for him to two decimal points — just a bit more than 13 years and 8 months — you should go the extra step and do it properly. The likelihood of it being exactly 13.6800 years, using four digits after the decimal, is only 1 in 100! So I take that improbability into account in assessing credibility here!

Paulajean Eagleman, former BOE Employee:

I worked with David Dodson at the BOE for 6 years. His years of experience make him the ideal candidate for BOE. I know he will serve the taxpayers of District 4 with honor and integrity.

This troubles me. “Ideal candidate” raises all sort of theological and philosophical questions about when the Creator could make a BOE candidate even better than David Dodson. I think it’s pretty obvious that one could be taller!

So I leave it to you the reader to decide whether these testimonials are better than what people have said regarding Mike Schaefer, such as: “How do you plead?”, “Empty your pockets!,” “Your license to practice law is hereby suspended” and “PLEASE don’t use language like that to talk about minorities and women!”


With the breaking of the Democratic Party embargo against endorsements, Dodson has apparently started to attract many more endorsements, some serious campaign money, and enlisting enthusiastic campaign volunteers. Many of these will be working in concert with other Democratic candidates for Congress, State Legislature, Supervisor positions, and more. I haven’t looked at the “Volunteer” tab of the website, but there does seem to be one.

Sadly, all of these volunteers will presumably be drummed out of the party because they are supporting a candidate other than the one that the party leadership chose because it didn’t want to make exceptions to the rule that incumbents get endorsed — including not giving Dodson the information he needed to challenge such an endorsement!

As the election approaches, for party leaders to stubbornly fail to allow full support of party members for the candidate with decades more experience, including running the Los Angeles office of the Board of Equalization for more than decade, as well as a whole lot less vile bigotry — seems like a no-win proposition for them and the party. But that’s not really true. As a critic of the party’s leadership, I personally will be provided with a grotesque example of horrible stupidity that I will be able to rub in party leaders’ faces for years and years! That’s some real comfort, but for everyone else’s sake — essentially anyone who prefers competence in tax policy governance — I hope that they follow the lead of the California Labor Association, SEIU, and progressive groups and do what they can to help Dodson win.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)