FPPC-based complaints political
The Fair Political Practices Commission regulations help keep politics honest as well as give political hackers a tool to fabricate political attack issues at the public’s expense.
The FPPC requires political campaigns as well as elected officials to maintain financial records and make those records public on a specific schedule. These disclosures aid the public in determining where the money comes from and where it is being spent.
The FPPC rules also allow anyone to file violation complaints whether the claimed violations are real, imagined, or a total fabrication, while the name of the complainant is kept confidential. This can be what FPPC officials call a free shot at one’s opponent. An estimated 75 percent of the complaints are dismissed without so much as a cursory investigation because they are obviously unfounded.
The real, or more cleverly fabricated complaints are investigated by FPPC attorneys. Officials also say, out of the complaints requiring an investigation, that most are found to be no violation or accidental and to have caused no public harm. Even the simplest of investigations can generate hundreds of pages of documents and countless hours of time for public officials at public expense.
We have an excellent local example of a waste of taxpayer’s money for unnecessary FPPC complaints. The case is the infamous Nevada County Citizens for Responsible Government (or CRG, an independent Political Action Committee). The allegation, improperly reporting the source of $28,000 utilized by citizens unaffiliated with but in support of then candidates Drew Bedwell and Robin Sutherland in 2002.
The FPPC attorneys found no validity to those complaints (The Union May 3, 2003) but that didn’t stop the political muckrakers from continued allegations. Olivia Diaz made reference to these funds in the debate forum at Christopher’s Caterers prior to the 2004 Primary Election and letters to the editor continue to bring up these funds in attack letters. This seemed to be an odd comment by Olivia, since neither of her opponents, Nate Beason or Josh Ramey, received any funds from CRG.
The source of the $28k was correctly reported as a contribution from a decades old dormant PAC Nevada County Citizens for Responsible Growth (NCCRG). In an apparent attempt to keep CRG from participating in future political elections additional FPPC complaints were filed, again costing more taxpayer money. This time the complaints were filed against the old dormant PAC, NCCRG.
The FPPC typically takes many months, if not years, to complete an investigation. The latest round of complaints against CRG/NCCRG have been concluded. Yep! You guessed it. No violations of FPPC regulations.
No doubt CRG’s opponents will continue to launch accusations of wrong doing to score more political hits at the public expense.
Terry Robinson lives in Nevada City.
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