Tag Archives: Fair Political Practices Commission

FPPC Complaint Against Perez Campaign for 80th AD: Determination Due Friday

The Desert Sun and its online edition, mydesert.com, detailed the California Fair Political Practices Commission complaint against the Perez campaign for the 80th Assembly District for unfair practices during the California Democratic Party convention in San Jose.  For the entire article, refer to FPPC Complaint Alleges Candidate Skirting Campaign Advertising Disclosure.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission confirmed today that someone filed a complaint against 80th Assembly District Democratic candidate Manuel Perez accusing him of failing to disclose who paid for his campaign advertising.

The complaint was filed against the Coachella School Board trustee April 4.

“It’s obvious some people want to manipulate rules and don’t want to follow them,” said Greg Rodriguez, who filed the complaint. “I think everybody needs to be scrutinized by the rules they follow.”

More below the flip…

Rodriguez is a Greg Pettis for 80th Assembly District supporter, a candidate for the Palm Springs Unified School District board, and a Sen. Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this summer.  Pettis, a Cathedral City Councilman and former-Mayor Pro-tem, is the leading candidate and leading fundraiser of the four Democratic contenders for the 80th AD.

According to The Desert Sun,

Perez says he’s complied with the law.

“It’s one thing or another,” he said. “We’ve got more important things to do like walk the streets and talk to voters.”

Apparently one of the more important things that the Perez campaign has to do is voter intimidation in the Coachella Valley.  Perez’ Campaign Director, Amalia Deaztlan, was reported to intimidate one of Pettis’ Latino supporters and endorsers at the Democrats of the Desert Annual Banquet on Saturday, April 5, 2008, harshly pinching him in a manner usually applied by Latino adults to recalcitrant children, telling him after he refused to switch his allegiance from Pettis to Perez, “You are no longer one of us!”  In addition, Perez supporters have attempted to intimidate Pettis bloggers and diarists with threats and accusations.

Created with a ballot initiative in 1974, The Fair Political Practices Commission was created in a 1974 ballot initiative to investigate campaign violations of the Political Reform Act and imposes administrative penalties.

The FPPC will notify Rodriguez in writing by Friday whether the department will investigate or not, said Roman Porter, a department spokesman. Porter would not speculate on the merits of the complaint.

“One advantage of having a formal complaint signed under penalty of perjury is to reduce frivolous complaints,” he said.

State law requires disclosure on campaign advertising when advocating for or against a candidate or ballot measure.

Perez supporters created and distributed fliers advertising the Perez candidacy at the CDP convention in order to attempt to revoke the party endorsement of Pettis for the 80th AD which he obtained with over 70% of the Democratic Club votes at the Moreno Valley confab.  Perez supporters created the advertisements without any FPPC-required denotations as required for the mass production of campaign materials.  Perez supporters to date have not reported exactly how many fliers were created for distribution.  Under FPPC regulations, mass-produced advertisements are often regulated when created in numbers of 200 or greater.

Fabian’s Law

The Fair Political Practices Commission is proposing new disclosure laws for travel expenses for legislators, which are obviously in response to revelations about Fabian Nuñez’ lavish globetrotting.  The regulations would require public proof that all activities had a legitimate government purpose, before the fact rather than after it comes out in the media.

Under a proposal made Monday by the state’s ethics watchdog, detailed public disclosure of who benefited from such spending would be required of state officeholders, if given final approval next month. In addition, certain nonprofit groups involved in political campaigns would be forced to reveal their donors under a separate proposal by the Fair Political Practices Commission […]

Under the new proposal, politicians and candidates would have to publicly list the gift recipients by name and the nature of the gift. They also would have to provide the dates of meals, the number of people at a meal and whether the diners included the politician’s family or staff.

For out-of-state travel, politicians would have to disclose the dates and destination of travel and whether expenditures covered family and staff.

In all of these categories, the reports “shall state facts sufficient to demonstrate the political, legislative, or governmental purpose of the expenditure.”

The rule also would require campaign account treasurers to make available to the commission, but not necessarily to the public, the names of all people who benefited from travel and meal expenditures.

The proposal was met favorably by the Nuñez camp as a way to improve accountability and increase sunshine.  I can’t see anyone, even the non-profits, finding this disagreeable unless they want to closely guard their own personal secrets.  This is a common-sense measure to ensure taxpayers that their good name – and their money – is being used legitimately and to the benefit of the state.

Disclosure? Distraction? Confusion? Contribution?

Brian Joseph has a frightening tale for us in today’s “Capitol Watchdog” column in The OC Register. He was just trying to figure out how much the County of Orange was spending on lobbying expenses. He ended up diving into a maze of total confusion.

I had downloaded lobbying expenditures from the Secretary of State’s Web site and found that over a little more than six and half years the County of Orange had spent $5.1 million on lobbying – more than the Irvine Co., Pacific Life Insurance and the Walt Disney Co. combined.
According to the state’s official numbers, Orange County ranked 32nd out of 4,321 lobbying interests, just seven spots behind British Petroleum ($5.9 million) and 10 behind Verizon ($6 million).

Wow. Doesn’t that sound crazy? Well, what if I told you that Orange County ACTUALLY DIDN’T spend $5.1 million on lobbying? Follow me after the flip for more on this story of disclosure gone wild…

Hold on a moment. So Orange County didn’t spend $5.1 million on lobbying Sacramento? Well, it depends on how one counts the money.

Digging much deeper, I found the state’s reporting standards for government agencies differ from other lobbying interests. Governments, unlike other groups, are required to report membership dues to organizations that spend more than $15,000 or 10 percent of their annual expenditures on lobbying. So while a county has to count its membership fee to a politically active chamber of commerce, a business doesn’t have to.
That might not sound like a big deal, but $3.5 million, or nearly 70 percent, of Orange County’s reported lobbying expenses appear to be membership fees or other organizational costs. Over the six full years I examined, Orange County spent an average of $560,000 annually on fees to a total of more than 150 organizations. Only about $1.5 million went to direct lobbying.

$3.5 MILLION?! Is there really a $3.5 million discrepancy between what the county might have actually spent on lobbying and what the county has to report to the state on lobbying expenses? Is this for real?

Moreover, some organizations charge different dues depending on the size of the member. In 2005 and 2006, for example, Orange County paid a total of $333,051 to the California State Association of Counties while Contra Costa County, a third of Orange County’s size, paid the organization $110,496.
Then there’s over-reporting. Governments, not surprisingly, might not know whether an organization meets the $15,000 or 10 percent lobbying threshold. So in the interest of full disclosure, I’m told some agencies report dues to all organizations – regardless of whether they qualify.
All of which makes the state’s publicly available numbers grossly misleading.
You can compare expenses for businesses and other groups, but you can’t accurately compare them to governments or even compare one government to another. You could, I suppose, read the fine print and subtract membership dues, but that also could eliminate costs for indirect lobbying.

So then, what good are these numbers? What good are these numbers if they can’t give us an accurate representation of how much our local governments are actually spending on lobbying Sacramento? What good are these numbers if we can’t compare how much my local governments is spending to how much your local government is spending?

Now I guess disclosure is good. It’s good for us to know how much money our local government is spending on lobbying expenses. But then again, what good are these numbers if they don’t give us an accurate portrayal of what’s actually happening?

Maybe Shirley Grindle is right

“In my book, `disclosure’ … is just another word for confusing the public. Just give `em a bunch of numbers that don’t make any sense.”

Is Shirley Grindle right? Is disclosure just meant to confuse us? Is there a better way to disclose? What do you think?