Education

State watchdog fines Elk Grove teachers union $11,500 for campaign filing violations

FILE -- Jodi Remke, center, flanked by former commissioners Patricia Wynne, left, and Eric Casher, conducts business on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. Remke is the chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission.
FILE -- Jodi Remke, center, flanked by former commissioners Patricia Wynne, left, and Eric Casher, conducts business on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. Remke is the chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission. Sacramento Bee File

A state watchdog organization has fined the political action committee for the Elk Grove Unified teachers union $11,500 for failing to submit timely campaign reports.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission found that the Elk Grove Education Association PAC violated the state’s Political Reform Act numerous times in 2016.

The fine was among enforcement decisions approved by the commission during its Dec. 21 meeting.

According to FPPC documents, the PAC failed to file two required semiannual campaign statements, one pre-election campaign statement and contributions on two campaign statements by required deadlines that year.

It also failed to file 24-hour contribution reports on time for six different contributions, amounting to over $39,000. A candidate or committee has 24 hours to report contributions of $1,000 or more made within 90 days of an election.

The FPPC’s enforcement division reported that it found no evidence that the committee intended to “conceal, deceive or mislead,” and instead attributed the violations to negligence, as the committee was going through a transition of treasurers.

The state’s campaign reporting requirements are intended to make sure the public has access to important, time-sensitive information regarding political contributions.

The FPPC case was prompted by a sworn complaint received in late October 2016 alleging campaign reporting violations by the committee, according to FPPC documents.

The committee supported Measure M, an Elk Grove Unified School District bond measure, during the Nov. 8, 2016 general election. It also supported Nancy Chaires-Espinoza, Carmine Forcina and Chet Madison Sr., who were candidates for re-election to the Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Education.

The bond measure passed and all three candidates won.

“Respondents do not have a prior history of enforcement; therefore, the subject violations do not appear to be part of a pattern of disregard for the Act,” the FPPC decision states.

The case against the committee consisted of five counts, which at a maximum of $5,000 per count could have resulted in a penalty up to $25,000.

The FPPC document says the committee agreed to the $11,500 administrative penalty and submitted payment prior to the commission’s Thursday decision.

A representative of the PAC could not be reached for comment.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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