Nevada County elections office in middle of Measure S debate |

Nevada County elections office in middle of Measure S debate

A complaint from a Measure S opponent triggered the Nevada County Elections Office to send out notices Tuesday to leaders of the “Yes on S” campaign, asking for new, amended campaign finance statements with more information.

Don Bessee of Alta Sierra, a “No on S” backer, said he asked the elections office to review the Form 460 campaign finance statements submitted by Citizens for Fair Laws, “Yes on S.” Measure S is the revised medical marijuana cultivation ordinance on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“All this money is flying around, and there are no reports on the source of it,” Bessee said Tuesday

Elise Strickler, senior clerk-recorder assistant in the Nevada County Elections Office, said she will send out four letters seeking amended filings to addresses listed on the forms. If the items are not corrected after several requests, she will forward the complaint to the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Nevada County currently has no fines or penalties in place for election filing violations; however, the FPPC has the discretion to impose fines if it so chooses, Strickler said.

Told of the complaint, Patricia Smith, head of the “Yes on S” campaign, said she will deal with the notices when she receives them from the elections office.

“I did my best to fill them out correctly, but I may have made some mistakes,” Smith said Tuesday. “I understand that it is easy to fill out the forms incorrectly and the Nevada County Democratic Committee received a $500 fine for not filing something in a timely manner.”

Smith added that the issues raised “seem rather minor, compared to the mishandling of the election by paid officials,” apparently referring to the Measure S ballot label that Nevada County Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling has ruled was not impartial as required by law. “Are they planning on fining themselves?”

Bessee, meanwhile, said that two of the contributors to “Yes on S” were listed as “small contributor committees,” Americans for Safe Access-Nevada County and Grass Roots Solutions. He said FPPC rules require “small contributor committees” to list registration numbers from the state and to file their own finance statements.

In addition, election code requires that all campaign committees file a Form 497 within 24 hours of receiving a contribution of more than $1,000.

According to the Form 460s from “Yes on S,” ASA-NC contributed $10,000 and Grass Roots Solutions gave a total of $10,000 in two payments, but no Form 497s were filed, according to Strickler.

“They all give Patricia Smith’s home address as their addresses,” Bessee said. “One person is at the nexus of all of this.”

Bessee on Tuesday publicly asked Nevada County Board of Supervisors to consider establishing local fines or penalties for election filing violations. Supervisors said they would consider the matter after the Nov. 4 elections.

Leaders of both sides of Measure S will square off this week at a public League of Women Voters forum 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, at the county’s Rood Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City.

Monday, Oct. 20, is the last day to register to vote.

To check your registration status or to re-register, see and go to “elections” and click on “determine your registration status.” To contact the elections office, call 530-265-1298 ext. 0, or visit the office at the Rood Center, Suite 250, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 530-477-4239.

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