CHRISTIAN VOTERS POLITICAL PAMPHLET SENT BY DEMOCRATIC BACKER IN EL CAJON VIOLATED CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW, FPPC ENFORCEMENT OFFICER ADVISES

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By Miriam Raftery

April 23, 2014 (El Cajon)—The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is weighing a proposed stipulation order that if signed, would impose a $2,000 fine against Bonnie Burns Price for a mailer from “ Christian Voters for a More Transparent Government in East County."  Price is the former chair of the East County Democratic Club and a supporter of Ben Kalasho, a candidate who ran for El Cajon Council and lost by a narrow margin in 2012.

According to the draft stipulation, Price paid $4,188 cash for the mailer to voters criticizing policies of the City Council including raising the sales tax and sewer rates. The mailer urged votes against incumbents Bill Wells, Tony Ambrose, and Bob McCelllan, all of whom were reelected.  The mailer stated it was paid for by the Christian Voters group, however no such group was registered with the City, County Registrar of Voters, or California Secretary of State.

The stipulation acknowledges that failure to provide proper sender identification on a mass mailer is a “serious” violation of the Political Reform Act.   In a similar case in 2011, a $2,500 penalty was approved by the Commission. The statute allows a maximum $5,000 fine, but the FPPC stipulation drafted by Gary S. Winuk, chief of enforcement and Zachary Norton, commission counsel, also factored in the defendant’s lack of prior violation in recommending the $2,000 fine.

Asked for comment, Price said she was not aware if the FPPC has approved the draft stipulation yet and would defer comment until consulting with her attorney after a decision is reached by the FPPC.