This Time: A progress report; did we detect the first “fib” from one of Denham’s opponents, and a preview of what we are working on.

Last time we explored, in depth, the finances of Congressman Jeff Denham. Some readers asked that we do the same for his opponents. We’re trying.

Mr. Denham had filed financial disclosure statements every year since 2010 so we had had a foundation and starting point from which to “drill down” and discover the particulars of some disclosed assets and uncover some undisclosed liabilities. That work took some time and trips to Recorders offices since he had assets and liabilities in two counties.

That financial disclosure foundation does not exist for most of the Democrats. Michel Barkeley filed one last February as he has been a candidate for the 10th district for the last two election cycles, as well as this one. Dotty Nygard, one of the first to announce filed hers in late May.  Josh Harder filed one on August 30. Seth Vaughn hasn’t had to file one because he hasn’t raised more than $5,000. Other disclosures will trickle in. We think the last of the required disclosures will be made by the end of October.

We feel it is best, and fairest, to wait until all the disclosures are filed so there is a real way to compare the candidates. It may very well be that none of them will have any potential conflicts of interest. The financial background of each candidate may tell us something about them, and their values. Some candidates may fall by the wayside. Lisa Battista, for example, withdrew in early September.

We can do a comparison of one thing now—money raising. As of August 30, Mr. Denham had more cash on hand than all of his opponents combined, a total of $1,045,424, and change, Obviously, at some point, the national parties will pick someone to finance and that candidate’s coffers will swell.

As of August 30, Mr. Harder had more cash on hand than all of the others who are opposing Mr. Denham,combined. He had $374,972, and change. Nurse Nygard had $14,502 and change.  Each of the rest of the candidates who had filed reports had less than $1,000 on hand. This included Seth Vaughn, Terra Snover and Magteo Bedolla. Terrance (TJ) Cox, Virginia Madueno and Sue Zwhalen had not yet filed fund raising reports.

These numbers will change, perhaps drastically, when the next set of money-in-hand figures come out shortly after an October 15 deadline and we can cover that in the post on the candidate finances.

Money aside, we are going to have an interesting primary campaign.  Terra Snover is a trans woman who is believed to be the first such gender changed person ever to run for Congress in California.

And we have the usual dynamic revolving around residency. We have some who are “from heres”, natives or long times residents of the district; “come backers” who have roots in the district but left for various reasons and have returned to the district to run for the House, and those with no apparent past or recent connection with the District.

Mr. Barkley, Nurse Nygard, Nurse Zwahlen and Ms. Madueno are “from heres”

Mr. Bedolla, for example, is from Tracy but has worked outside the district as a staffer for the Congressman for the ninth District. Interestingly, he is not currently old enough to serve in the House but will be by election time.

Mr. Vaughn was born in Turlock, graduated from Beyer High and moved out of the district for school and work. He moved back to Modesto in 2015 but early this year he moved to Sacramento to work as a researcher for government technology firms.

Mr. Harder was born in Turlock, graduated from Modesto High School then left for college and work. He is expected to argue that there is nothing more “Modesto” than playing in the Mo Band on a warm, summer Thursday evening in Graceda Park, which he did.

Two others are “come heres:” Ms. Snover and Mr. Cox

I guess this is a good a time as any to point out that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A RESIDENT OF THE DISTRICT TO RUN FOR THE SEAT.

The only residency requirement for the House of Representatives is that you live in the state in which the district is located. That makes sense because of frequent re-districting.

However, nobody wants to carry the mantle of “carpet-bagger”.

Ms. Snover says she will be moving to the district in 2018, as she is held back from the move now  by medical and insurance reasons.

Mr. Cox told the LA Times  in early July that he had already moved here. Further, according to writer Sarah D. Wire who covers the 55 house seats for the Times, he  registered to vote here AND was in the process of moving his family into the house where he registered to vote.

Herein lies the potential “fib” we teased you with.

We ferreted out the fact he registered to vote on June 12  at an apartment in northeast Modesto that is one bedroom, one bath, in about 780 square feet. His family currently lives in a 3,417square foot, four-bedroom, four-bath house in Fresno.

We checked because we didn’t think anyone would pull up the deep roots he had in Fresno, not only the house but his wife’s medical practice, to move to Modesto to take on a four-term incumbent Congressman. Especially after an expensive loss in 2006 to an incumbent Congressman in the 19th District.

We elected to call this a “fib” because a “fib” is generally defined as an unimportant “lie”. It was unimportant because residency in the district is not required.

Or it could be that no “lie” is a “fib” because even an unimportant lie tells you something about the candidate.

A good take-away would be that we will be checking for puffery, spin, fibs and lies in everything the candidates, of whatever party, put forward in this election.


1.RED LIGHTS AND SIRENS, OH MY. We are going to be comparing the policies of the Modesto Police Department and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s office regarding when their officers can, red lights flashing and sirens howling, ignore some traffic laws. Surprisingly, even though springing from the same template, there are significant differences.

2. PURSUE OR DON’T, A SURVEY: Through a Public Records Act request we have obtained reports on pursuits by the Modesto Police and the Stanislaus Sheriff for the calendar years 2014, 2015 and 2016 and the first half of this year. Using a spread-sheet we can tell how far and fast the pursuer went, whether or not the pursuee (that word, thanks to Buford P. Justice) was captured and what offense prompted the pursuit.

3. THE DEATH OF EVIN OLSEN YADEGAR: This is one pursuit which ended tragically. A young Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy shot and killed a 46-year-old woman, owner of a downtown Modesto restaurant after a slow speed pursuit from Salida into a subdivision in southwest Ripon. The San Joaquin County District Attorney has put a lid on the investigation which we are trying to pry off. Among the issues which arise from this event is when and how de-escalation can be employed to avoid such a tragic consequence.

4. IS THE PRINT EDITION OF THE BEE CIRCLING THE DRAIN?: Several senior writers have taken buyouts and abandoned ship. The paper, not including inserts, is shrinking in size and circulation. The Editor recently noted that the Bee is “…a true digital-first operation…” He hailed “video boards displaying the latest analytics”. Reporters can see in real time whether or not people have clicked on their online stories. We are gathering background facts on the print industry nationally, on the McClatchy family of industries,  then we will approach the local folks about their view of the future.  Not sure what the reception will be.


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