The state’s political watchdog has proposed a $6,500 fine against Councilman Roger Gaylord in what could be its biggest penalty against a Folsom official.
The Fair Political Practices Commission is scheduled Thursday to consider the fine as part of a proposed settlement between the agency and Gaylord over activity related to his failed 2014 bid for the council. He was elected to the council last year in a surprise win that ousted four-term incumbent Jeff Starsky.
The proposed settlement accuses Gaylord of two counts of violating the state’s Political Reform Act for failing to report thousands of dollars in campaign finance activity, another count of failing to identify his campaign on a mass mailing and a fourth count of illegally making cash purchases of more than $100 on four occasions.
Gaylord does not dispute any of the actions outlined in the settlement, but contends the FPPC has blown them out of proportion and the proposed fine is too much. He said he made mistakes because he was a political novice running a campaign by himself, with his own money.
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“The FPPC was created to protect small candidates like me. What they’re doing is the exact opposite,” he said. “It’s almost like they’re trying to make an example of me.”
Spokesman Jay Wierenga said the agency does not comment on pending cases.
In January 2015, Folsom real estate agent Dan McNeil filed the complaint that led to the agency’s investigation, records show. In his complaint, McNeil accused Gaylord of “purposely evading state campaign finance disclosure laws.” Gaylord received training on state political ethics laws as a member of Folsom’s utilities committee, McNeil said.
McNeil said Wednesday that Gaylord is wrongly blaming him for his ethics violations.
“He’s blaming others when he should be blaming himself,” he said.
McNeil, who says he has closely followed local politics during his 25 years in Folsom, said he is aware of no fine against a local official that approaches the proposed one against Gaylord.
Wierenga said a search of the FPPC website for enforcement actions against Folsom officials did not turn up a fine as high as the proposed one against Gaylord.
Gaylord said McNeil was acting on behalf of the city’s business community, which did not want Gaylord elected because of his positions against development. He said he would not take campaign contributions from developers and bankrolled his campaign with his own money.
McNeil said he filed the complaint of his own accord because people who want to serve in office should follow the rules. McNeil also said his prominence in the Folsom business community has been overstated by Gaylord; he said he works as a real estate agent in Roseville and sold his Folsom business a decade ago.
Gaylord said he had trouble keeping track of his political spending during the 2014 campaign. He said he did not want to spend money to hire a campaign treasurer, as political candidates often do. He said he learned how to better follow the law because of his problems in 2014 and was able to follow the law in last year’s campaign.
Also Thursday, the FPPC will consider a proposed settlement over violations by the Folsom South Area Group, which plans to build a major development south of Highway 50. The group failed to file reports for $27,500 in campaign contributions, according to FPPC.
The commission also will take up a proposed settlement with former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis. In 2012 and 2014, Davis failed to pay a $50 annual fee to the secretary of state’s office, according to the FPPC. The proposed fine is $400.