Members of a College Republicans group in California have gotten caught up in a lawsuit filed by a pro-Democratic political group that accused dozens of petition-gatherers of misleading voters during a recall campaign.
Three members of the College Republicans from California State University, Fullerton, were named along with dozens of other Republicans in the California district. They were part of efforts to gather signatures supporting the recall of a state senator over a controversial gas tax hike.
California's legislature, aided by the vote of Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman, passed the $52 billion tax increase -- signed in April by Gov. Jerry Brown -- to fund transportation projects in the state. Newman’s vote spurred Republicans in his Fullerton district to launch the recall campaign against him.
But the June 29 lawsuit filed by “Friends of Josh Newman Opposed to Recall” pushes to counter the petition efforts and alleges they contain “objectively false and misleading information.”
“The California Republican party is responsible for funding lies to voters in clear violation of California law,” spokesman for the pro-Newman campaign Mike Roth told Fox News. “The three college students in question are among 60 recall proponents who are each named in the suit.”
The group explained that the Republicans leading the recall efforts were “misleading voters” by billing their campaign as an effort to “Stop the Gas Tax” or “Reverse Car and Gas Tax Hikes.”
“The suit is about nothing less than the integrity of our election process; a recall election simply should not be certified when signatures were gathered based on lies to voters,” James Harrison, the attorney who filed the suit, said.
But the local Republican-led recall campaign against Newman has gathered nearly 85,000 signatures to remove him from his seat in the state Senate -- and the students named say the lawsuit goes "too far."
The lawsuit, first reported by Campus Reform, names three CSUF College Republican members: Chapter Vice President Amanda McGuire, Secretary Ryan Hoskins, and Public Relations Manager Brooke Paz.
“It’s gone too far when college students are being dragged into court for becoming involved with the issues faced by their local cities,” McGuire said in a statement, calling the lawsuit filed by Newman supporters a “shameful and frantic attempt to silence voters in the district.”
Hoskins described the lawsuit as “obstruction.”
“By naming myself and my fellow club members as defendants in this lawsuit, the California Democrats are attempting to scare us into backing down from this signature gathering effort,” Hoskins said. “They will not succeed in breaking our spirit and with the support of the California Republican Party, we will fight it in the court of law.”
Communications Director for the California Republican Party Kaitlyn MacGregor told Fox News that the allegations of the Democrats are “laughably false” as the recall petition was approved by the Secretary of State, and “clearly states the purpose and effect of the petition.”
“We are confident that this frivolous lawsuit will not keep the voters from their chance to send Sen. Newman home,” MacGregor said.
The Republicans in the Newman's district aren't the only ones putting up a fight on the tax hike. Opponents in the legislature are looking for ways to repeal the tax and plan to sue over the state-drafted title and summary for the ballot question, which they say is misleading, according to the Los Angeles Times.