An 84-year-old San Diego man with an ignominious past won the endorsement of the state Democratic Party over the weekend, despite a history that includes spousal abuse, legal sanctions for being a slumlord and a restraining order keeping him away from an actor on a beloved TV sitcom.
Michael “Mike” Schaefer, who calls himself “The Equalizer,” is running for re-election to the state Board of Equalization, a post he first won in 2018. Schaefer represents five Southern California counties — San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial. The largely unknown board regulates and administers property taxes, alcoholic beverage taxes and taxes on insurers.
The oldest Californian to hold a state constitutional office, Schaefer has a lengthy political past — much of it unsuccessful. An attorney by training, Schaefer has also run afoul of the law multiple times, and has been disbarred in California and Nevada.
The California Democratic Party did not weigh in on the race in 2018, when Schaefer faced Republican Joel Anderson, who was fresh off his own scandal in which he was reprimanded by state Senate leaders for confronting a Capitol lobbyist and threatening to “bitch slap” her. Anderson went on to win a seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 2020.
But during its convention held over the weekend, the Democratic Party voted to support Schaefer in his re-election bid.
In his speech to the convention, he said that he deserved the party’s endorsement because he spent the last four years fighting for “tax justice and equity for all Californians” and that he worked with Newsom to help small businesses avoid tax penalties during COVID.
“When the pandemic struck, I worked with Gov. Newsom to initiate an executive order that helps small businesses by delaying penalty statements for property tax statements and lead deadlines and that helped to keep many small businesses afloat during trying times,” he said. “I co-led a 50 person statewide COVID tax force that created many innovative solutions to protect our taxpayers and reform our tax laws.”