Ventura County Clerk-Recorder

The Context

A lot of people absolutely do not realize what a vital role the clerk-recorder plays both at the county and the city level.

In the county, the clerk-recorder is where you go for vital records, such as birth and death certificates. But they also manage our elections, from holding voter files, managing campaign finance disclosures, and counting the ballots.

You want a clerk-recorder who is as non-biased and politically neutral as possible. Unfortunately, I don’t see that being a possibility in this race, or the country’s political climate at large. Over a decade ago, both the Democratic and Republican parties hatched a scheme to take over small, non-partisan offices as widely as possible. This meant that they both planned to run for local races like water boards and schools boards, and even positions like county-clerk, to apply their ideologies to those offices. And in fact, this was the campaign that, when creating this guide, made me start second-guessing my own bubble on this ballot line.

To make the situation even more complicated: the current county-clerk announced the day after a major scandal hit the county made the news that he would not be seeking re-election. The scandal? The CEO of the county had been accused of sexually harassing employees of his office. Rather than disclose his suspension with the public, the county supervisors chose to not share this news with the public, giving the CEO time to retire early, we all assume retaining his full pension and benefits.

The clerk-recorder that is not seeking re-election has seemed someone politically neutral on the outside, however, it should be noted that in his election in 2018, he utilized a local political consulting firm called Rincon Political Consultants, who specialize primarily in Republican candidates. He is one of those Blue Lives Matters folks, and is on Twitter using his name and with his title mentioned in his Bio, though he does not disclose that Tweets on this account are not official positions of the county for which he works.

And as a result, that account has not gone without scandal. In 2020, when the county sought to sue violators of public health orders at the very beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, Mark Lunn – the outgoing county-clerk – Tweeted that Rob McCoy (right wing Trump campaigner, pastor, and former city Councilmember/current city council candidate) was exercising his freedom of religious assembly by violating the government that he was elected to’s public health orders.

As I said, we want our county clerk-recorder to be as politically neutral, and to know the law, as much as possible. There are three candidates to replace Lunn.

Spending Breakdown

Bruce Boyer

Has filed no campaign finance disclosure, indicating $0 raised or spent

Michelle Ascencion

Spent $9K

Gave herself a $10K loan

Jeff Hargleroad

Spent $39K

Gave two loans totally $30,750

Bruce Boyer’s Political Activity

Bruce Boyer is one of those guys that hangs around politics, causes a scene at the county and city buildings frequently, and is known for being that quirky guy who seems to be everywhere. Many people refer to him as a conspiracy theorist, and he can regularly be found at local meetings screaming at councils and boards in his cowboy hat and t-shirt.

I personally attended the League of Women Voters candidate’s forum for this particular race to see if Boyer had anything of substance to say. He did not show up.

To date, he has filed no campaign disclosure forms, or even filed for an incorporated campaign committee. This makes sense, if you’ve ever looked at his signs. They are non-conventional, do not follow local ordinances for signs, are usually held in place by used bicycles and chain locks, and lack the FEC disclosures you typically see at the bottom of a candidate’s signs on who paid for the materials.

Ascencion’s Notable Donations

Michelle Ascension’s campaign contributions are limited in scope. She is clearly, however, an institutional crony. This isn’t to say it’s a bad thing; she just knows everyone, and is very well connected.

It is my belief that Ascension is Mark Lunn’s handpicked successor. Why do I believe that now? Because he donated $500 to her campaign, with the employment title “Retired.”

In addition to Lunn, donors of note:

  • Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez, under the alternative name “Maria”
  • Committee to elect John Zaragoza for Mayor 2020
  • Laura Hernandez – City Councilmember for Port Hueneme (LEFT)
  • Misty Perez – City Councilmember for Port Hueneme (RIGHT)
  • A lot of locals: engineers, tax folks, people at the county, some local CEOs of small companies, a handful of prominent local Democrats
  • Gabe Teran, listed as a Health Educator (he’s also a City Councilmember in Oxnard)
  • SEIU 721

Hargleroad’s Notable Donations

There is very little to write about Hargleroad’s donations. The vast majority of his donors are from people listed as “Retired” or “Unemployed.” He also loaned his campaign $30K, while only spending $9K more than that.

He has spent more than 4x the money Ascension has spent.

There was, however, one bright red flag flying for me in his donations, another local crackpot that rides with Bruce Boyer to every meeting possible to cause a scene. Deborah Baber, who went viral for her impassioned speech about not wanting to wear a mask during the earliest days of a pandemic, because – among several reasons – she does not identify as a sexual sadist. She ended that speech by ringing a cowbell and singing God Bless America. She also was arrested at the Ojai Trader Joes for throwing vegetables at an employee that asked her to put on a mask in those earliest days of COVID.