With Ballot Access Lawsuits, Businessman Hopes to Roque the Vote
As a businessman, Roque de la Fuente II often turned to the courts to gain an advantage, or to correct what he saw as injustices.
He was locked in one of the longest-running, most expensive lawsuits to ever face the city of San Diego over development of an Otay Mesa business park owned by De La Fuente. The impasse finally was resolved in 2015 with the city’s insurers agreeing to pay $25 million toward De La Fuente’s business park.
He also won a 2006 lawsuit against the Border Patrol that resulted in a payout of about $2.3 million. He accused the agency of putting sensors in the ground on his property without his permission.
So it makes sense that as de la Fuente has pivoted to politics, he’s filed numerous lawsuits seeking to secure access to the ballot.
He estimates he spent more than $10 million in 2016 on his campaigns and related legal battles.
“It’s a lot,” said de la Fuente, who’s one of the largest private landowners along the U.S.-Mexico border. “But I can afford it.”
In fact, de la Fuente, a so-called “perennial” or “serial” candidate who’s run for roughly 14 different offices over the last four years – many of them simultaneously – contends that his campaigns and the subsequent lawsuits they’ve generated have become a sort of chicken-and-egg situation: The more he runs, the more he says he discovers obstacles to appearing on the ballot. That prompts him to enter even more races in order to challenge ballot access procedures he argues keep most people from participating in politics.
Some of these efforts, however, seem to be backfiring: In losing a number of challenges, de la Fuente is actually helping set court precedents that could keep him and other candidates off the ballot.
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