Antioch resident files complaint with Attorney General against council candidate Gardner for using homeless non-profit to campaign

Antioch resident files complaint with Attorney General against candidate Nichole Gardner of using non-profit to campaign

Complaint filed with FPPC against Lamar Thorpe over flier proves baseless

Screenshot of Nichole Gardner’s campaign post on her non-profit Facebook page submitted with the complaint.

By Allen Payton

A press release was received by the Herald Thursday evening that, “Complaints have been filed against Nichole Gardner, candidate for District 3 Antioch City Council and Lamar Thorpe, candidate for Mayor of Antioch, for their failure to follow the law when it comes to their respective campaigns.” The complaints were filed by Antioch resident Nicole Cedano-White. Complaint to Attorney General re NGardner

The press release continues with, “Gardner, Director of Facing Homelessness in Antioch, is accused of using her 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization to promote and raise money for her political campaign for City Council. Numerous screen shots of Gardner’s nonprofit Facebook posts have been forwarded in a formal complaint to the California Attorney General’s Office for review of these actions. There is also concern of possible ‘co-mingling’ of funds between the nonprofit organization Gardner runs and her political campaign. Complaint to AG re NGardner Documentation

“Ms. Gardner knows the rules and the law specifically states that charity 501(C)(3) organizations are prohibited from being involved in political campaigns of any kind,” said Nicole Cedano, a longtime resident of Antioch. “I can appreciate her desire to help the homeless, but what she’s doing is jeopardizing her ability to continue the nonprofit’s work.”

The press release also reads, “The official complaint to the Attorney General also asks that office to investigate the use of the nonprofit’s automobile paid for with donations from citizens – to make certain it is not being used in campaign activities and door to door canvassing for Gardner’s campaign.”

When reached for comment, Gardner said she hadn’t known or received anything about the complaint when first contacted by the Herald. After reading the material provided to her, she responded, “We have not been contacted by the FPPC or the Attorney General’s Office. Nothing that this says is accurate.”

When challenged on that statement and asked if she was referring to the posts of her campaign promotions on her non-profit organization’s Facebook page, Gardner responded, “Thank you for reaching out. I will keep my statement as it is.”

The Herald will reach out to the Attorney General’s office on Friday for further information.

Copy of flier from Lamar Thorpe provided to FPPC clearly shows disclaimer language that isn’t legally required. (Yellow arrow added)

Complaint Against Thorpe Proves Baseless

The press release also reads, “The complaint against Thorpe is specific to the brochure he is leaving on voters’ doorsteps entitled ‘Leadership that Listens.’ The campaign brochure does not have the legal identification required by the FPPC of who ‘Paid for’ the design, printing and distribution of the piece. That complaint was filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), the organization that monitors whether a candidate or campaign is following required State regulations.”

“Mr. Thorpe apparently doesn’t ‘listen’ like his brochure claims – at least he doesn’t listen to what is required by law – because we have no idea who actually paid for his promotional material,” Cedano said. “I’m sure the FPPC will review and get to the bottom of this.”

“For the time being, I suggest Mr. Thorpe ceases all distribution of this legally questionable brochure – so as to not deceive voters and to keep within campaign rules and regulations,” she concluded.

Flier that Thorpe claims was provided to FPPC with the complaint against him.

When reached for comment Thorpe said, “The flier was scanned deliberately without the disclaimer. I shared a copy with the FPPC showing the disclaimer and they just responded with, ‘thank you.’”

That echoed the email he sent to the FPPC on Monday, Sept. 14 which reads, “Looks like the person who submitted the complaint left of (sic) the disclaimer when they scanned it. Don’t know if it was deliberate or not but here is my brochure and it clearly has the disclaimer on it.”

A copy of the flier provided by Thorpe to the FPPC and the Herald clearly shows a line at the bottom of one of the pages that reads, “Paid for by Lamar Thorpe for Mayor 2020.” But it also includes an incorrect reference to the FPPC, with the words “PFFC Pending”, referring to the campaign identification number issued by the Secretary of State. A variety of candidates in Antioch and Brentwood have been waiting several weeks to receive their ID numbers, which is unusual, and is most likely due to state employees working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FPPC provided Thorpe with a link to the rules for campaign committee disclosure for a variety of media. For fliers the rules read, “’Paid for by committee name’ and committee ID number are recommended but not legally required.” FPPC 2020_Disclaimers_1_Final_V.2

“It’s political silly season and people are going to do desperate things,” Thorpe added. “I’m going to keep focusing on talking to voters.”

Thorpe also provided the Herald the email he received from the FPPC and a copy of his flier he claims was submitted with the complaint by Cedano-White. That shows the portion of the page of the flier containing the campaign committee disclaimer was cut off.

Efforts to reach Cedano-White asking her whether or not she scanned the entire page of Thorpe’s flier, and if she didn’t why, were unsuccessful prior to publication time. Please check back later for any updates to this report.

the attachments to this post:

Flier provided to FPPC with complaint re LThorpe

Copy of flier from Lamar Thorpe 2

FPPC 2020_Disclaimers_1_Final_V.2

Complaint to Attorney General re NGardner
Complaint to Attorney General re NGardner

Complaint to AG re NGardner Documentation
Complaint to AG re NGardner Documentation

Nichole Gardner campaign post on non-profit FB page

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