A Sacramento judge ruled Friday that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s title and summary for a ballot initiative to repeal the gas tax passed by the legislature in April was misleading, and said he would rewrite it.
Republicans turned to the referendum process after both houses of the legislature voted by a two-thirds majority to raise gas taxes by 12 cents per gallon and to hike vehicle registration fees, ostensibly to pay for transportation infrastructure. The effort is being led by State Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntingon Beach), who is also running for governor.
Once the ballot initiative had gathered enough signatures to qualify, it was submitted to the Attorney General to receive a title and summary. Becerra, a partisan Democrats who has devoted his tenure in office to attacking President Donald Trump, supplied a title and summary in July whose clear intent was to confused and discourage voters. Allen immediately announced that the referendum’s backers intended to sue.
Becerra’s description said that the referendum “Eliminates recently enacted road repair and transportation funding by repealing revenues dedicated for those purposes.” It did not mention the word “tax” or “fee” at all. It also said that the referendum “Eliminates Independent Office of Audits and Investigations,” though that office never existed before the new law was passed.
Sacramento County Superior Court judge Timothy Frawley was so shocked by the Attorney General’s description that he is not even allowing Becerra to have a second chance: he will rewrite the title and summary himself, the East Bay Times reports.
“The problem with the Attorney General’s title and summary is that an ordinary, reasonable elector, who is otherwise unfamiliar with the initiative, would not be able to discern what the initiative would do,” the judge reportedly said.
The Times notes Allen’s response to the decision: “It is the constitutional mandate of the attorney general to write a true and impartial ballot title and summary that in no way prejudices voters toward the measure. … It’s very clear that (Attorney General) Xavier Becerra has not lived up to the California constitution and did not prepare an honest title and summary and so the court is going to do his job for him.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.