Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

State panel to discuss proposed penalties for anti-Prop 8 groups

Three campaign committees that failed to defeat California’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban in 2008 are facing thousands of dollars in fines from the state’s campaign finance panel.

The Fair Political Practices Commission announced today (Friday, August 31) that it will meet Thursday, September 13 to discuss fines for No on 8, Equality for All; Equality California Issues Political Action Committee, and Human Rights Campaign California Marriage PAC. All three cases stem from Franchise Tax Board audits.

No on 8, Equality for All and its treasurer, Steven Mele, failed to timely file late contribution reports, according to the FPPC. The related records include $5,000 online reports. The total proposed penalty is $42,500. Representatives of the No on 8, Equality for All executive committee couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday.

The EQCA Issues PAC and its treasurer, Timothy Hohmeier, failed to file preelection campaign statements for two reporting periods and failed to timely file late contributions reports, among other violations, the FPPC said in its agenda for the September meeting, which was distributed Friday. The state panel is proposing total fines of $31,500 in this case.

In an email to the Bay Area Reporter Friday, EQCA spokesman Stephan Roth said, “The No on 8 campaign committee was advised by the treasurer and legal counsel at the start of the campaign that an FPPC fine was likely long after the campaign was over.  Such fines are imposed on virtually every campaign of this type, and given the unprecedented magnitude of small donations to the No on 8 campaign, it’s no surprise that the campaign was fined.  Campaign leadership acted responsibly to ensure that enough money was retained at the end of the campaign to cover any fine.” The B.A.R. reported on the possibility of fines in November 2011. (Roth emailed the paper about the fines without even being asked.)

The Human Rights Campaign PAC and its treasurer James Rinefierd also failed to timely disclose data regarding contributions received for three reporting periods, according to the state commission. The total proposed penalty is $6,000.

In response to an emailed request for comment, HRC spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz said, “During the fast-paced six month campaign against Prop 8, HRC’s California ballot measure committee made a good faith effort to fully comply with the reporting requirements of California law, including hiring a professional treasurer to prepare our reports.  Following the election, on our own initiative, we conducted an internal review and discovered less than five percent of the total raised by the committee had not been reported properly. We then voluntarily amended our campaign filings to include these inadvertently omitted contributions and ensure full public disclosure.”

Earlier this month, the FPPC approved fines against backers of Prop 8.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 31, 2012 @ 12:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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