‘No violations’ in FPPC complaint against Nevada County officials | TheUnion.com

‘No violations’ in FPPC complaint against Nevada County officials

Keri Brenner
Staff Writer
and The Union Staff

A complaint filed by Measure S supporters with the Fair Political Practices Commission against Nevada County officials turned up “no violation” and included allegations beyond the jurisdiction of the commission, according to a letter from a FPPC official.

In a letter to Patricia Smith, head of the “Yes on S” campaign committee, Gary Winuk of the FPPC Enforcement Division wrote that a review of the complaint and documentation submitted “found no violation” of the Political Reform Act.

“You alleged certain Nevada County officials of violating Government Code Section 54964,” Winuk wrote. “The FPPC has no jurisdiction to interpret or enforce any violations of any other Law than the Act. Accordingly, the FPPC has no jurisdiction to initiate an investigation into this matter.

“As for the allegation a violation of Government Code Section 89001, there is insufficient evidence a violation of this code section occurred.”

Smith said Tuesday her group still planned to forward the complaint to the Nevada County Civil Grand Jury. She said there were also plans to investigate taking it to the state Attorney General or Secretary of State’s office.

“We just want to get some regulations on the books so these issues don’t come up again in future elections,” Smith said. “This current election has been a nightmare.”

Nevada County Supervisor Chairman Nate Beason said he was “pleased but not surprised” at the FPPC’s conclusion that there were no violations.

“It just validates for the folks in Nevada County that they’re getting pretty good government,” Beason said. “We’re up to no shenanigans.”

Alison Lehman, assistant county executive officer, had a similar opinion.

“The FPPC letter reinforces that the county made an honest attempt to provide fair representation of the facts and educational material on the existing ordinance and on Measure S,” Lehman said.

The “Yes on S” group alleged that Nevada County officials showed “flagrant disregard of Government Code Section 54964 and well-established case law that a public agency may not expend any public funds to support or oppose a ballot measure.” The complaint alleged the county officials violated that code section by allowing use of the county website, letterhead, election mailings and county meeting rooms to oppose Measure S. The complaint requested the FPPC “investigate and enjoin such activity.”

The FPPC decision was “just another negative reflection on the pro-Measure S campaign,” Beason said. “It has just been one falsehood and red herring after another — it’s called low politics.”

Smith said she felt satisfied Tuesday that the “Yes on S” campaign effort was strong and said she had no regrets or things she would have done differently.

“If we lose, it’s not going to be because of any snafus,” she said. “It will be because of the partisanship activity operating here.”

Smith said the most damaging example of what she was referring to as partisanship activity was the language on the Measure S ballot label. Nevada County Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling on Oct. 3 ruled that the label “missed the mark” in terms of impartiality, but he decided it was too close to the election to have the ballots reprinted and the label changed.

“Win or lose, it’s on to 2016,” said Smith, referring to a likely statewide ballot measure to legalize all marijuana — not just medical as currently exists. “There’s not going to be any rest for the weary.”

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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