April 16, 2018: San Diego Union-Tribune: County assessor invested in companies that own and manage properties under his jurisdiction.
Many assessors in California have policies on how to value an official’s personal property such as a house — for instance, handing the job off to counterparts in other counties to avoid a conflict of interest. But investments like those Dronenburg has in companies with real estate holdings are a gray area.
Matthew Strabone, the San Diego lawyer challenging Dronenburg on the June 5 ballot, said it is not appropriate for an elected assessor to buy and sell shares in companies that own property subject to their assessment. “My opponent can have a directly beneficial impact on these companies and he stands to benefit himself from that potentially beneficial impact,” he said. “This is the very definition of a conflict of interest.”
Strabone said assessors should be prohibited from investing in companies that own property within their jurisdiction. “Sometimes holding public office requires sacrifice, and this is a reasonable and necessary sacrifice for the County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk to make,” he said.
April 10, 2018: San Diego Union-Tribune: Candidate for assessor-recorder-county clerk accuses incumbent of violating disclosure rules.
Matthew Strabone filed a sworn complaint accusing Dronenburg of accepting $5,000 from the Republican Party of San Diego County on April 4 and failing to disclose the contribution within 24 hours as required by state law.
“I am deeply disappointed in my opponent’s callous disregard for campaign disclosure laws and the underlying purpose behind them: to ensure that our elections are conducted in a fair and transparent way,” Strabone said.
March 7, 2018: San Diego CityBeat (cover story): Matt Strabone Really Cares.
“Now I know what you’re all thinking, and it’s always the first question I get,” Strabone begins telling the crowd before pausing. “What does the San Diego County Assessor-Recorder-Clerk actually do?”
“It’s one thing to list out that the office has three primary roles, but people still need you to connect the dots,” Strabone says. “When I go up to folks and tell them that there are 150,000 homeowners in San Diego County who are not getting the property tax exemption that they should be getting and that those people are paying extra money on property tax every year, that gets their attention.”
“Anything I can do to improve customer service and outreach, I will do it,” he tells the people gathered in the condo complex. “I know that this isn’t the most high-profile office in the world, but it does touch the lives of literally every person in the county and that’s why it’s so important to me.”
February 22, 2018: San Diego Free Press: Keeping the Stupid in Politics, San Diego Style.
Incumbent Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg has been hitting the road and living the high life on the taxpayer dime. He’s spent $90,000 on 161 mostly in-state trips since 2012...
The incumbent Dronenberg favors high-end hotels and often switches lodging locations during a trip, apparently as part of a strategy to run-up rewards points with hotel chains and airlines.
Needless to say, Dronenberg’s opponent in the winner-take-all June primary, Matt Strabone, released a statement on the exposé, saying in part:
“Ernie Dronenburg is a career politician who’s long since lost touch with voters, and this is just another example. San Diego deserves a County Assessor who puts the people of San Diego County first and focuses on the duties of the office, not one who spends his workdays schmoozing in wine country and 4-star ski resorts on the taxpayers’ dime. If elected, I’ll spend that time here in San Diego County showing homeowners how to save their tax money instead of using it to pad a Hyatt rewards points account.”
February 20, 2018: San Diego Union-Tribune: Assessor Trips Cost Taxpayers Over $90K.
In total, [Dronenburg] made 112 trips outside San Diego County between January 2012 and May 2017, the time period reviewed by U-T Watchdog. The travel included 161 hotel nights, usually at a Hyatt brand property, along with meals, car rentals, parking and other expenses. The travel costs came to just over $90,000 for the five-plus years.
Dronenburg was reimbursed $1,362 after taking his wife to Sonoma County for a three-day conference hosted by the same group. That event included a golf tournament, a wine industry update, a hospitality reception and face-reading, records show.
Between 2013 and 2016, Dronenburg attended annual conferences of the Northern California Assessors’ Association held at the PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn west of Lake Tahoe. He spent $5,208 over nine nights on four separate visits, records show.
On a trip to Santa Monica, Dronenburg stayed at a Hyatt in Ontario, an hour away.
Dronenburg, who faces San Diego attorney Matthew Strabone on the June ballot...
Our campaign has raised significantly more money than our incumbent opponent for the second consecutive campaign filing period, this time by more than double! We have also once again broken the record for most money raised from contributions by this point in the campaign by any candidate for Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk in the history of San Diego County!
Matt said: “I am so proud of the support our campaign has earned from all across San Diego County. Today’s fundraising reports make it clear that our campaign is the one to beat. Our movement to put the people of San Diego County first will continue working hard to reach every voter and we will never waver in our commitment to bring greater transparency and accountability to the Assessor/Recorder/Clerk’s office. It’s time to make our county government work for all of us.”
We've done well so far but there's still a long road ahead. Join us and contribute to our campaign today!
January 7, 2018: Voice of San Diego: Politics Report; County Assessor Feels Heat.
Obscure Race, Real Challenger: Matt Strabone, the lawyer running for County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk against the incumbent, Ernie Dronenburg, got a backhanded compliment from one of Dronenburg’s staff members this week.
“One our own is need of help. Ernie Dronenburg, Jr. – our Lincoln Club endorsed candidate for County Assessor/ Recorder/ Clerk – has a challenger that is real,” Marks wrote. He pointed to an article in Politico that discussed the race and a PAC that was supporting Strabone.
November 15, 2017: San Diego Free Press: County Elections Matter: Matt Strabone’s Campaign for Assessor/Recorder/Clerk.
Meet Matt Strabone, the ‘viable non-appointed candidate’ and man with a plan to bring good government practices to the low profile county office that touches virtually every San Diegan.
Candidate Strabone made local political radar with a record (for the office involved) $50,000 in contributions reported in June. Since then he’s racked up a hefty list of endorsements.
In a recent interview, Strabone stressed his vision for good government, saying elected officials had an obligation to explain their services to any group willing to provide a forum, including non-profits, church, and area planning groups.
October 17, 2017: Politico: 'Run for Something' backs dozens of candidates.
Run for Something, the organizing and empowerment group urging young progressives to run for local office, added 37 more endorsements on Tuesday... A hopeful running for San Diego County Assessor / Recorder / Clerk got the nod.
July 20, 2017: Times of San Diego: San Diego Democratic Party Endorses Sheriff, DA, Assessor Candidates.
The next primary election is a year away, but the San Diego County Democratic Party is already beginning to release endorsements. Endorsements made Tuesday were Matt Strabone for Assessor / Recorder / County Clerk...
“I am delighted to have earned the endorsement of the San Diego County Democratic Party,” said Strabone. “Following our campaign’s recent fundraising record, this is yet another example of the momentum we are building all across San Diego County.”