Appearance of Bias for Member Communications Sent Through Association?


In early March, upon learning that less than half of eligible residents in the Covenant were registered to vote, Rancho Santa Fe resident Nick Krnich embarked on a campaign to increase voter registration among fellow homeowners. This campaign included, among other communications, establishing this news website, a website dedicated exclusively to voter registration (, and a Facebook page.

The campaign is part of an effort to “increase participation and make information more accessible,” says Nick. “Every member should be able to exercise their right to vote. 100% registration is the goal.”

Pursuant to rights provided under California law (see below), Mr. Krnich requested that the Association distribute a letter to its members. The Association sent the letter, but included a disclaimer. Click here to see the letter and disclaimer.

Subsequently, another group utilized the right to communicate a message in favor of the Garden Club Building Purchase, click here to see that letter and a different disclaimer the Association used.

Krnich, curious about the apparent inequity between the treatment of his neutral letter intended to increase voter registration and a communication clearly intended to advocate in favor of a position on an upcoming vote, brought some concerns to the attention of Assistant Manager of the RSF Association Board, Ivan Holler.

For reference purposes, California Civil Code Section 5105 Reads:

(a) An association shall adopt rules, in accordance with the procedures prescribed by Article 5 (commencing with Section 4340) of Chapter 3, that do all of the following:
(1) Ensure that if any candidate or member advocating a point of view is provided access to association media, newsletters, or Internet Web sites during a campaign, for purposes that are reasonably related to that election, equal access shall be provided to all candidates and members advocating a point of view, including those not endorsed by the board, for purposes that are reasonably related to the election. The association shall not edit or redact any content from these communications, but may include a statements specifying that the candidate or member, and not the association, is responsible for that content

Attached here, the following exchange ensued.