By Allen Payton
Candidate for County Supervisor in District Three, Diane Burgis filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) on Tuesday, against her opponent, Steve Barr, alleging his campaign failed to publicly disclose $19,457 in large donor contributions within the required 24-hour reporting period. burgis-complaint-v-barr
The FPPC is the enforcement agency for the California Political Reform Act. The Act covers campaign finance and lobbying reporting, campaign advertising disclosure, and conflicts of interest laws regarding public officials. The financial disclosure rules state that all campaigns must report monetary contributions of $1,000 or more within 24 hours of receipt, or within 48 hours for non-monetary, in-kind contributions beginning 90 days before an election using a 497 form. That period began on August 10th, this year. fppc-reporting-rules
The complaint alleges the Steve Barr for Supervisor 2016 campaign failed to file the 497 reports on time, on at least ten occasions, only reporting the contributions on its first required campaign report, which he filed on September 28, 2016. Those contributions and dates they were received are as follows:
- $1,150 on August 18 from Richland Real Estate Fund, LLC of Irvine, CA (41 days past due)
- $1,000 on August 24 from Bloomfield Vineyards of Brentwood, CA (34 days past due)
- $1,500 on August 28 from the Aloha Club of Byron, CA (29 days past due)
- $1,675 on September 8 from Balfour Properties (19 days past due)
- $1,675 on September 12 from the Committee to Re-Elect Robert Taylor of Brentwood, CA (15 days past due)
- $5,000 on September 12 from CREPAC-C.A.R. of Los Angeles, CA (15 days past due)
- $1,675 on September 14 from Premier Floor Care, Inc. of Walnut Creek, CA (13 days past due)
- $1,000 on September 22 from ASM Investment Properties, LLC of Oakley, (5 days past due)
- $2,000 on September 23 from Build Jobs PAC of Walnut Creek, CA 9 (2 days past due)
- $2,782 on September 24 from Pacific Union of Danville, CA (1 day past due)
If the state confirms misreporting, penalties could equal $10 per day plus up to $5,000 per violation, a potential penalty of up to $51,730, more than the value of all contributions combined, Burgis’ campaign stated in a Wednesday press release.
If a fine is levied, more likely the maximum amount would be $1,740 for the 174 cumulative days past due at $10 per day, since each of the contributions have been reported.
“We were disappointed to find such significant financial mismanagement on the part of Mr. Barr,” said Rebecca Barrett, Burgis’ campaign manager. “He built his candidacy on his fiscal know-how and ability to follow the rules, yet it appears he’s been unable to meet his obligation to inform voters about who funds his campaign. It should make us wonder if Mr. Barr is truly ready for the job.”
When reached for comment, Barr offered the following statement:
“I received the complaint and have attempted to contact the FPPC and we are awaiting a response. It appears we made a mistake in our reporting deadlines. I take full responsibility for that mistake. We will work with the FPPC on any amendments and accept any remedies that they see fit.”
“What we don’t know is whether or not we still need to file the forms after the fact, since the contributions have already been reported,” he continued. “We have filed the 497’s for two contributions received since the last reporting period, including one, just yesterday.”
When reached for comment, County Clerk Joe Canciamilla was asked if Barr has to still file the 497’s if all the contributions in dispute have been reported on his latest 460 form all the contributions and who levies any fine that might be assessed.
“The forms are to be filed with us, since it’s a local office,” he said. “It’s sort of a moot point at this stage, since they were disclosed but not within the time frame of the 24-hour reporting.”
“We’ve never fined anybody,” he continued. “We have to do some research to talk about whether we have the authority to levy the fine or the FPPC and if it’s discretionary. Until we get a formal complaint here, we’ll have to deal with it when we get it.”
A call and email to the FPPC garnered the following response:
“If people file a complaint with us, we can release a copy of the complaint five days after we receive it,” said Jay Wieringa, Communications Director for the FPPC. “The Commission made a decision to give people a chance to find out about a complaint against them before they read it in your paper, especially during non-campaign season.”
“But, during campaign season sometimes campaigns file complaints against another and then inform the media,” he continued. “We frown on it. We don’t like it. But we recognize it happens.”
Canciamilla later provided additional information.
“We did get an email about three weeks ago from the FPPC that any of these complaints be referred to them, to the Enforcement Division,” he said. “So that’s where it will go. It would be the FPPC or the District Attorney who would levy any fines.”
When asked again if Barr still had to file a 497 form for the contributions since they’ve already been reported on the 460 form, Canciamilla responded, “Retroactively? No. I’m not sure what the value would be to go back and file the 497’s, now.”
A letter was sent by the FPPC’s Enforcement Division, yesterday, to Barr, his campaign and his wife Kathy, who serves as his campaign treasurer, informing them of the complaint. The letter states the agency will inform Burgis within 14 days if they intend to investigate the complaint, refer the complaint to another agency, take no action either because the Commission doesn’t have the authority or the allegations do not warrant any further action. fppc-letter-to-barrs