Voters Shouldn’t Buy Into SLO County GOP’s Guilt By Association Game

Aaron Ochs
4 min readMar 16, 2022
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia — Pepe Silva
In the FX show “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” the character Charlie goes on a conspiratorial rant about how he believes a person named “Pepe Silvia” does not exist.

This takes me down memory lane.

For nearly a decade, I was falsely accused of being a “government troll” that was hired by late District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill to demean his critics merely because the peddlers of said conspiracy theory believed my columns were similar linguistically to Hill’s talking points; that I occasionally talked to Hill because he and I were often targeted by the same people. Though I wasn’t an elected official, this lie was peddled by SLO County GOP members and operatives. Last year, a lawsuit attempting to raise that conspiracy theory in court was dismissed in California’s 2nd District Appellate court. The judge found there was no evidence substantiating that conspiracy theory.

In 2016, an anonymous Facebook page linked to SLO County GOP operatives published an seemingly endless stream of propaganda attacking anyone with at least a tenuous connection to Hill were “trolls” that were being investigated by local, state and federal officials for criminal activity. They targeted everyone from private citizens supporting Hill to public figures and elected officials who supported some of Hill’s policies. This campaign led to Hill supporters and critics of his opponents receiving harassing messages and death threats. Ultimately, their campaign failed. Hill got re-elected that year.

Now, the SLO County GOP has officially endorsed the Hill guilt-by-association playbook — one that didn’t work then and doesn’t work now.

What’s the difference between then and now? After Hill committed suicide in August 2020, the Dept. of Justice revealed that the late supervisor accepted bribes from marijuana mogul Helios Dayspring in exchange for favorable votes. Because the federal investigation remains ongoing and details remain scarce, there is a mysterious cloud hanging over the heads of anyone who supported or have ties to Hill. The GOP sees this as an opportunity to exploit the ambiguity to cast aspersions on those people.

This guilt-by-association with Hill tactic reeks of desperation.

The Tribune wrote an editorial about the SLO County GOP’s allegedly new campaign strategy, stating in part the strategy is primarily targeting District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who will be…

Aaron Ochs

Author, artist, advocate and entrepreneur from Morro Bay, California.