The Imperial County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the California Democratic Party Rules Committee regarding allegations of racial discrimination made against two county officials made by leaders of the Imperial County Democratic Party.
Before the action, the board was notified by the chairperson of the Imperial County Democratic Party Annette Gonzalez-Buttner that the resolution was rescinded but said that the county should also take action on other resolutions they have sent to the board.
Supervisor Ryan Kelley said he was glad to hear that the party rescinded the resolution but said they should continue with the action.
On Thursday, August 27, 2020, the board was notified that he Imperial County Democratic Central Committee held a special meeting to adopt a resolution of no confidence to County Executive Officer, Tony Rohoutas, and Register of Voters, Debbie Porter. The resolution alleges disparage treatment of County citizens based on race and calls for the immediate resignation of both county officials. The resolution further demands that the board remove these county representatives should they choose not to resign, and threatens to forward to the Attorney General and Secretary of State for “criminal tampering with elections documents and racism.”
“The action taken by the Imperial County Democratic Executive Committee to adopt a resolution was based on false and unsubstantiated claims of racism and discrimination,” the county said in a letter.
The county says they didn’t receive a formal complaint or inquiry from those that had allegedly experienced such discrimination. In fact, two of the members of the Democratic Party that were supposedly the subjects of disparate treatment by county officials have publicly come out against the resolution. The only communication received by the county regarding matters alleged in the resolution was from Chris Stampolis, the apparent “parliamentarian” of the Imperial County Democratic Committee who does not reside within the county. The letter says that while the county attempted to explain to Stampolis that different types of records are subject to different fees for copying, Stampolis rejected this explanation and instead baselessly accused the elections department of charging different fees based on race.
“This is entirely false, and neither Stampolis nor any other member of the Imperial County Democratic Party has provided any evidence to substantiate this claim,” Chairman Luis Plancarte said in the letter.
Two members of the Imperial County Democratic Party that were supposedly the subject of disparate treatment have come out against the resolution. Hilton Smith, the 1st Vice-President of the local party and the cofounder of the local Black Lives Matter movement have stated that he does not believe that the perceived irregularities in the elections process are based on race.
“I made two mistakes,” said Smith in regards to the resolution. “One was voting for that resolution. The other was putting too much faith in the Imperial County Democratic Committee.”
Additionally, Marlene Thomas, a longtime community advocate, not only stated she was disheartened by the passage of the resolution, but also called for the resignation of Imperial County Democratic Chair, Annette Gonzalez-Buttner. Thomas also declared that the resolution was “spewed with hate, false allegations, and tainted with racism.”
Gonzalez-Buttner was elected of the Imperial County Office Board of Directors and is running this year for a seat in the Imperial Valley College Board of Education against the incumbent, Louis Wong. There is currently an ongoing criminal investigation in her election to the Imperial County Office of Education for allegations that she does not live in Imperial Valley.
Her trial will begin in October of this year.
Plancarte said that the board in concern that the local democratic party is currently influenced and directed by outside parties that do not appear to have the best interest of the local party or the citizens of the county at heart.
The letter said that Stampolis, who is Gonzalez-Buttner’s partner, has no official title with the Imperial County Democratic Party but appears to have been involved with the adoption of the resolution. Stampolis identifies himself as the “parliamentarian” of the party but that position is no part of the bylaws of the local party.
Stampolis said via a teleconference call that he considered the letter as reckless and defamatory and denied that he represented himself as a parliamentarian of the party since he doesn’t have a vote.