The city's Ethics Commission has handed a $5000 fine for violating the city's campaign-finance laws to the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) association as well as the political action committee it formed on behalf of District 4 representative Myrtle Cole.
According to a November 14 stipulation order issued by the commission, the employees' association failed to identify itself as the sponsor for the Cole-backed political action committee named "Community Coalition for Myrtle Cole for City Council 2013," and vice versa. Adding to that, the groups, despite working in concert with one another, were five days late in filing economic disclosures with the city clerk.
That's not all, reads the stipulation. The Community Coalition for Myrtle Cole also didn't bother adding the employees' association's name on any mailers and other campaign literature. Also, the commission found the two groups were less than truthful during their investigation.
"During the course of the Commission’s investigation, Respondents’ vendors provided information about material facts that was ultimately contradicted by documentary evidence.
"Respondents agree to pay a fine in the amount of $5,000 for violating SDMC sections 27.2930 and 27.2970. This amount must be paid no later than November 22, 2013, by check or money order payable to the City Treasurer. Respondent acknowledges that if the fine is not timely paid in full, the Commission may refer the collection of the fine to the City Treasurer’s Collection Division, which may pursue any or all available legal remedies to recover late penalties, interest, and costs, in addition to seeking the outstanding balance owed."
The stipulation comes months after Cole defeated her opponent, Dwayne Crenshaw, in the May 21 special election to replace former councilmember Tony Young after he announced he was leaving to take the helm of the local Red Cross. Cole's victory didn't come easy: she defeated Crenshaw by 700 votes.
The race was so hard fought that in May of this year, the Ethics Commission fined both Cole and Crenshaw for soliciting campaign cash and votes from city employees. Cole received the largest of the two fines — $500 — while Crenshaw had to shell out $250.
(corrected 11/19, 8:20 a.m.)