By Robert Haugh
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) suggests the City send the complaint about the Santa Clara of Chamber of Commerce raising money for its PAC to the District Attorney.
The FPPC handles complaints and investigations about political campaigns in the state. They usually do one of two things. The FPPC dismisses allegations if they think there’s nothing there. That’s what they did with the “anonymous” allegations against the City recently.
Or if they think there’s something wrong, they investigate. With this case, they’re doing something different. Does that mean they think there are criminal violations? Is that why they’re suggesting the DA?
We don’t know for sure. Here’s the letter the FPPC sent to the City.
The complaint is about the Chamber raising money from people and writing a check to the PAC in 2012. It was discovered during the Convention Center audit.
Political fundraising is not allowed because the Chamber is a nonprofit. So they are not supposed to engage in political activity. All nonprofits know that. Well, maybe not all.
The Chamber admits they did it. But they say it’s no big deal. Dave Tobkin is the longtime PAC treasurer. He was a Chamber director until recently. Tobkin wrote in the Santa Clara Weekly that the Chamber did collect $8,003 on behalf of the PAC but doesn’t think it’s wrong.
Tobkin signed his opinion piece “former city councilman and CPA.” He’s legally responsible for the PAC as its treasurer.
We think the PAC and Tobkin will have another problem based on our reporting. The PAC neglected to file FPPC reports with the city for four years from 2010 to 2014.
This could be interesting. Looks like it’s the beginning of the story, not the end.