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San Diego unions violated campaign finance law

Labor council and Oceanside firefighters' PAC didn't disclose campaign cash

Two San Diego County–based labor groups are up for charges at this month's meeting of the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.

One of the cases dates back to 2010, according to the allegations, when the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council sponsored a campaign committee that failed to properly disclose expenditures it had made that fall on behalf of Proposition 25, the measure that removed the requirement for a two-thirds vote of the legislature to pass the state budget.

"The Committee made expenditures totaling $150,536, with 84% of those expenditures in support of Proposition 25. These included late independent expenditures of $126,184 in support of Proposition 25," says a commission document.

"Respondents, however, failed to disclose the expenditure on a properly filed late independent expenditure report, within 24 hours of making the late independent expenditure.

"This case was opened as the result of a Franchise Tax Board audit.

"The public harm inherent in these types of violations, where pertinent information is not fully disclosed by the committee, is that the public is deprived of a means to discover the nature of the committee’s campaign expenses."

The staff found that the violations were "unintentional" and recommended a $7500 fine, to be considered by the commission at its meeting next week.

In the second case, the Oceanside Firefighters Association Political Action Committee and its treasurer Eric Hanson "failed to disclose making a $1,600 contribution to Jim Wood, a candidate for Mayor of Oceanside."

The PAC also didn't "itemize and disclose required information regarding cumulative contributions of $100 or more received from union members, in a semi-annual campaign statement" due at the end of January 2012.

According to the document, the Oceanside PAC didn't properly report "contributions totaling $121,485, which was 99.9% of the total contributions reported received."

The staff report says "the evidence suggests" that the PAC's initial failure to report its $1600 contribution to Wood was "inadvertent."

"In mitigation, Respondents fully cooperated during the investigation of this matter, and Respondents have no prior history of violating the Act," says the report, though the PAC will still have to cough up a penalty of $12,000 if commissioners approve a stipulation agreement reached with the firefighters.

"A higher penalty is not being sought because Respondents cooperated with the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission by agreeing to an early settlement of this matter well in advance of the Probable Cause Conference that otherwise would have been held."

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Two San Diego County–based labor groups are up for charges at this month's meeting of the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.

One of the cases dates back to 2010, according to the allegations, when the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council sponsored a campaign committee that failed to properly disclose expenditures it had made that fall on behalf of Proposition 25, the measure that removed the requirement for a two-thirds vote of the legislature to pass the state budget.

"The Committee made expenditures totaling $150,536, with 84% of those expenditures in support of Proposition 25. These included late independent expenditures of $126,184 in support of Proposition 25," says a commission document.

"Respondents, however, failed to disclose the expenditure on a properly filed late independent expenditure report, within 24 hours of making the late independent expenditure.

"This case was opened as the result of a Franchise Tax Board audit.

"The public harm inherent in these types of violations, where pertinent information is not fully disclosed by the committee, is that the public is deprived of a means to discover the nature of the committee’s campaign expenses."

The staff found that the violations were "unintentional" and recommended a $7500 fine, to be considered by the commission at its meeting next week.

In the second case, the Oceanside Firefighters Association Political Action Committee and its treasurer Eric Hanson "failed to disclose making a $1,600 contribution to Jim Wood, a candidate for Mayor of Oceanside."

The PAC also didn't "itemize and disclose required information regarding cumulative contributions of $100 or more received from union members, in a semi-annual campaign statement" due at the end of January 2012.

According to the document, the Oceanside PAC didn't properly report "contributions totaling $121,485, which was 99.9% of the total contributions reported received."

The staff report says "the evidence suggests" that the PAC's initial failure to report its $1600 contribution to Wood was "inadvertent."

"In mitigation, Respondents fully cooperated during the investigation of this matter, and Respondents have no prior history of violating the Act," says the report, though the PAC will still have to cough up a penalty of $12,000 if commissioners approve a stipulation agreement reached with the firefighters.

"A higher penalty is not being sought because Respondents cooperated with the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission by agreeing to an early settlement of this matter well in advance of the Probable Cause Conference that otherwise would have been held."

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