Jeff Smith 12:30 p.m., Feb. 11
Vargas Corporate Backers to be Fined for Hiding Identity
Two years ago this month we reported that political consultant Larry Remer--who once worked with Jane Fonda and her then-husband, former radical and liberal Democratic state Sen. Tom Hayden--had been employed by a political committee backed by a business lobbying group calling itself the Civil Justice Association of California.
The association's board was populated by representatives of California's biggest corporations, including Sempra Energy, Anthem Blue Cross, Allstate Insurance, CNA Insurance, American International Group, Chevron Corporation, General Electric, Intel, ExxonMobil, and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Using two committees, the group spent almost $1.5 million on an indendepent campaign to elect Democrat Juan Vargas, a former San Diego city councilman, state Assemblyman, and insurance company lobbyist, to the state senate over his fellow Democrat, then-Assemblywoman Mary Salas, regarded as the liberal in the race.
Although the corporations' campaign was technically separate from Vargas's, Remer, the candidate's longtime friend and political advisor, was widely regarded by local observers as the key strategist of the effort, noteworthy for its slashing attacks on Salas.
Vargas went on to narrowly edge out Salas, and now, midway through his term, is running for congress to replace Bob Filner, who wants to be mayor of San Diego.
Enter the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, which next week is set to sign off on a $6,000 fine against the big corporate guns for failing to properly reveal to the public their role on behalf of Vargas.
"On or about June 2, 2010, Respondents Put California Back To Work, Sponsored by the Civil Justice Association of California and J. Richard Eichman made an independent expenditure which caused a mass mailing to be sent in support of Juan Vargas for State Senate District 40 and in opposition of his opposing candidate, Mary Salas, which failed to display the top two contributors of $50,000 or more during the 12 month period prior to the expenditure, in violation of Government Code section 84506," says a proposed stipulation between the commission and the campaign committee.
Although Put California Back To Work was "a primarily formed committee to support the election of Juan Vargas for State Senate District 40 in the June 8, 2010 Primary Election," the filing says, the committee "failed to add the full name and office of the candidate it supported as its primary activity, and failed to include in Respondent Committee’s name, the name of the candidate, office sought and year of the election for whom the committee supported or opposed."
The FPPC document notes that there was no doubt as to the intention of the Civil Justice Association.
"According to Respondent Committee campaign statements, during the period January 1, 2010, through June 30, 2010, Respondent Committee made expenditures of approximately $1,449,440.
"Approximately $1,270,440 was made in support of Juan Vargas and in opposition to his opponent, Mary Salas. Therefore, approximately 88% of the campaign activity was in support of the election of Juan Vargas for State Senate District 40 and in opposition of a candidate opposing him in the same election.
"At no time prior to the June 8, 2010 Primary Election did the contributions or expenditures in support of Juan Vargas and opposing Mary Salas fall below 70%."
Despite that, "Prior to the June 8, 2010 Primary Election, Respondents Committee and Eichman paid for multiple advertisements and mass mailers in support of the election of Juan Vargas for State Senate District 40 and in opposition of Mary Salas, none of which included the proper disclosure."
More like this:
- Vargas Campaign Paid South Lake Tahoe Bistro, Hotel Tabs — Feb. 3, 2012
- Vargas 2010 Campaign Reports Debts of $375,784 — Feb. 1, 2012
- Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Gave Pols $63,000 — Feb. 9, 2011
- Juan, Buzz, and BP — July 14, 2010
- What You Do To Get Ahead — Feb. 26, 2004