Supervisor Das Williams Accused of Breaking Promise on Cannabis Donations

Carpinteria City Councilmember Roy Lee, who is running for the 1st District Supervisor seat, has issued a statement calling out the incumbent, Supervisor Das Williams, for accepting contributions from the cannabis industry. Lee claims that Williams has violated his own pledge to stop taking money from cannabis operators, and that this raises concerns over his integrity and accountability.

The statement from Lee’s campaign, released on February 5, 2024, cites recent campaign finance statements that show Williams has received multiple contributions from cannabis interests, including a $5,000 donation from CP1 Supply Systems, Inc., a company that deals in marijuana sales and services. The statement alleges that Williams has “broke[n] his promise” and “reneged on his 2019 commitment to halting the acceptance of campaign funds from cannabis operators”.

The statement refers to a 2019 interview with the Santa Barbara Independent, where Williams said he would not accept any more contributions from the cannabis industry, in response to criticism over the county’s cannabis regulation and enforcement. Williams said at the time, “I don’t want to be beholden to anyone. I don’t want to be perceived as beholden to anyone.”

Lee’s statement argues that Williams has betrayed the trust of his constituents by going back on his word and accepting money from cannabis interests. The statement says, “This isn’t just about campaign contributions; it’s about integrity, honesty, and the trust we place in our elected officials. Supervisor Williams’s decision to accept money from cannabis interests after explicitly promising otherwise is a betrayal of that trust. I guess he was hoping we weren’t paying attention. Well, we were … and we deserve better.”

Lee Promises to Run a Clean Campaign

Lee, who is a registered Democrat and a restaurant owner, is considered a moderate and business-minded voice on the Carpinteria council. He announced his bid for the 1st District Supervisor seat in October 2023, saying he wants to bring a fresh perspective rooted in the values of honesty, integrity and service. He said he is committed to addressing the issues that matter to the district, such as sustainable development, public safety, and environmental protection.

Lee also pledges to run a clean campaign that is free from the influence of controversial contributions. He says he will advocate for policies that reflect the community’s best interests, and not those of special interests. He says, “In contrast to the incumbent, I pledge to maintain a campaign finance record free from the influence of controversial contributions and to advocate for policies that reflect the community’s best interests.”

The 1st District Supervisor seat covers Carpinteria, Cuyama, Montecito, and parts of Santa Barbara. The primary election is scheduled for March 5, 2024.

Williams Could Not Be Reached for Comment

Supervisor Das Williams or his campaign representatives could not be reached for comment on Lee’s statement. Williams, who has also served in the State Assembly and on the Santa Barbara City Council, has been a major player in the creation of the county’s cannabis ordinance, which has been controversial among some residents and stakeholders. Williams has defended the ordinance as a balanced and reasonable approach to regulating the cannabis industry, which he says brings economic benefits and tax revenues to the county.

Williams faced a challenge from now District 2 Supervisor Laura Capps in 2020, where he narrowly won the race. Capps also criticized Williams for his involvement with the cannabis industry and his campaign donations from cannabis operators. Williams has said that he has always been transparent about his campaign finances and that he has not let his donors influence his decisions.

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