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Newport activist hits councilman with political practices complaint as ‘payback’ for support of lawsuit

Bob Rush waves a copy during the March 12 Newport Beach City Council meeting of an FPPC complaint he filed against Councilman Jeff Herdman.
(Screenshot / Daily Pilot)

A Newport Beach activist who prevailed in a lawsuit filed by residents and supported by Councilman Jeff Herdman is following up with a complaint to the state alleging Herdman omitted required identifying language in his email newsletters.

Bob Rush filed a 32-count complaint this month with the California Fair Political Practices Commission that he appended with copies of Herdman’s blog posts — which the councilman also sends out as email blasts — from 2018 and early 2019 that were missing “Paid for by” disclosures and an individual mailing address.

Rush revealed the complaint to Herdman at the March 12 City Council meeting, telling the Balboa Island councilman that he was giving him a “down payment on payback” after Herdman “piled on” to the 2018 lawsuit against Rush.

The suit was an unsuccessful attempt by a group of former Newport Beach council members to get their argument opposing a local ballot proposition into informational pamphlets for November’s election and bump Rush’s argument. Herdman submitted a declaration supporting the plaintiffs — former mayors Keith Curry, Rush Hill and Mike Henn and former mayor pro tem Jean Watt.


“I’d like to thank you for your involvement in that lawsuit,” Rush told Herdman, who sat quietly at the dais. “It was because of your screwy affidavit submitted that I won.”

Later, Herdman said of his emails: “Apparently I am leaving off some information that is required. If that is the case, I thank Mr. Rush for pointing out this possible error so that I can make the correction for future blogs.”

Councilman Jeff Herdman, pictured in 2016, says his blog posts and email blasts apparently are “leaving off some information that is required.”
(File Photo)

Among the arguments in the lawsuit and Herdman’s declaration was that Rush didn’t actually oppose Measure T, which asked voters to approve an amendment to Newport’s city charter to require 55% voter approval whenever the council wants to spend at least $50 million on capital projects using a financing method known as certificates of participation.


However, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled that Rush’s argument against the measure could stand and that the plaintiffs had to pay Rush’s attorney fees.

The proposition cruised to victory in the election with about 80% of the vote.