By Robert Haugh
You read it here first.
At the City Council meeting that night, Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe referred our report to City staff. So City staff called the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) and did some research.
Here’s their conclusion — we were right. City staff wrote to the council yesterday:
Based on the contribution percentages from 2010 through 2014, the SCCCPAC should have designated itself as a City General Purpose Committee and thereafter should have filed all FPPC campaign disclosure forms with the City of Santa Clara’s City Clerk’s Office.
But it may be worse for the PAC:
The above findings show that the SCCCPAC should have designated itself as a City General Purpose Committee. There is no amended Form 410 for the years reviewed, 2010 through 2014. It should be noted that SCCCPAC is still out of compliance with properly designating itself as a City General Purpose Committee. Given the above findings, a separate review is warranted for the years 2015 through 2018 (present).
The City report makes it pretty clear:
In this case, the Treasurer of SCCCPAC, Mr. David Tobkin, should have completed the FPPC required due diligence to “verify its filing jurisdiction quarterly at the end of March, June, September, and December.”
Interestingly, the Santa Clara Weekly’s Carolyn Schuk wrote a story inaccurately defending the Chamber PAC — and inaccurately criticizing our reporting. This was accurately pointed out in the City staff report.
In the inaccurate story, Tobkin blamed former City Clerk Rod Diridon, Jr. That may have happened. But according to City staff, Tobkin, not Diridon, is still legally liable for the reports and the fine.
How Big a Fine?
It could be big. The notorious dark-money group BluPAC was fined $9,000 for failing to file a report with the city in 2016. BluPAC was only a few months late. The Chamber PAC is four to eight years late!
Here’s what the staff report says:
According to Government Code Section California Government Code 91013 (a) and (b)), a late filing penalty of up to $10 per day may be assessed for each day the statement is late. The FPPC or a local filing officer cannot extend a filing deadline. A committee may request a waiver of late fines assessed by the local filing officer or the Secretary of State.
Filing officers must refer committees to the FPPC or another agency if a committee fails to file a campaign statement. Administrative penalties of up to $5,000 per violation may be assessed. (See Government Code Section 83116.)
So if the Chamber PAC or Tobkin is having a garage sale this weekend, we’ll know why.