FPPC: local prosecutors failing to file charges in cases where public officials have used public funds for political purposes

26 Feb

Busy little bees.

The city and CARD are still worming their way toward separate tax measures. It’s starting to look like CARD will go with a parcel tax. The city, meanwhile, has yet to decide what kind of measure they will flop out – the Finance Committee is hearing a $25,000 proposal from  EMC Research to conduct a “survey”.

It is illegal to spend taxpayer money to campaign for a tax measure, and I would think it’s illegal to use tax money to hire a consultant who promises to run the campaign for you. But it seems the agencies who would investigate and prosecute this illegal behavior are squabbling over who is supposed to do it.

https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-campaign-funds-misused-20190214-story.html

“With local prosecutors failing to file charges in cases where public officials have used public funds for political purposes, the state Fair Political Practices Commission is proposing their powers be expanded to allow the FPPC to prosecute misuses of taxpayer dollars.”

But as you might guess, local agencies are not too keen on being watched by outsiders – the good old boy system by which county and city administrators scratch each others’ backs is way too entrenched in Butte County.

The Times reports that “In response, the California State Association of Counties is filing a lawsuit to prevent such enforcement.”

Wow, that’s pretty blatant, isn’t it? Now the counties are spending taxpayer money making sure they  don’t get prosecuted for the illegal spending of taxpayer money. Koyaanisqatsi.

So I wrote a letter about it. Write yours too. 

“Last month the Fair Political Practices Commission revealed 34 allegations made since 2015 concerning public agencies misusing taxpayer funds for campaign purposes. Unfortunately  the agency lacks the authority to prosecute misuse of public funds, a power reserved for city and county prosecutors and the state attorney general.

Apparently, no local law enforcement agency has followed through on any of the allegations, prompting the FPPC to ask the state for the power to prosecute in these matters.

Does anyone  really believe that a local DA or city attorney would prosecute a public agency for raising taxes? FPPC commissioner Brian Hatch calls that “political suicide”.

Both the city of Chico and Chico Area Recreation District continue to spend taxpayer money on consultants who promise to help them pass their separate tax measures. Their consultant EMC Research claims “Great campaigns don’t just happen. That’s why we offer a full suite of political research and predictive analytics to help your candidates, organizations, and ballot measures succeed.”

Is this why you pay taxes? To hire people to raise your taxes?

Contact FPPC Chair Alice Germond <agermond@fppc.ca.gov> and tell her you support her efforts to impose stiffer penalties on those public agencies who flaunt the law and continue to undermine voters’ rights across the state.

You might also want to contact Chico city council at debbie.presson@chicoca.gov and the CARD board at annw@chicorec.com and let them know how you feel about paying for their campaigns to raise your taxes.

Juanita Sumner, Chico”

 

 

 

3 Responses to “FPPC: local prosecutors failing to file charges in cases where public officials have used public funds for political purposes”

  1. Rene Vercruyssen February 26, 2019 at 8:17 am #

    Are we tracking the new SB1 revenue as it comes into the City of Chico and Butte County to ensure it is being used to repair our roads?

    • Juanita Sumner February 26, 2019 at 10:13 am #

      The latest monthly report is available in the Finance Committee agenda for this week’s meeting, posted on the city website, you can see for yourself.

      You might also be interested to know that one of the 34 cases reported by the fppc was Caltrans illegal use of taxpayer money to run their no on 6 campaign.

    • bob February 26, 2019 at 7:33 pm #

      Hey Rene,

      Didn’t your firm put up over $100,000 to defeat Prop 6?

      How much of that SB 1 money does your firm get?

      If you were willing to put up over $100,000 to defeat Prop 6, I’d bet it must be millions, probably tens of millions.

      Yes, if I was a bigwig at Knife River like you, I’d be concerned that the SB1 money would be siphoned off to CalPERs.

      And I guarantee that one way or another, it will.

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