By Ken Stone
“Assemblymember Gloria agreed to this settlement to resolve any and all outstanding issues regarding the filing of his Form 501,” said Nick Serrano, spokesman for the leading candidate for San Diego mayor. “We look forward to the final resolution of this matter.”Gloria and the state Fair Political Practices Commission have signed a stipulation to be affirmed at the agency’s Nov. 21 meeting in Sacramento.
FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga on Friday said the Gloria case is on the “streamline agenda” for the Enforcement Division.
(Wierenga later said: “Any case on streamline is already approved. The commission voted last year, when updating the criteria to qualify for the streamline program, that all streamline cases need not go to the full commission for a vote. If they fit the criteria and qualify for the streamline program, and are then in fact a streamline case, the chief of enforcement has the ability, per regulation, to determine that, and those cases are simply assigned to the streamline program and are, in essence, given pre-approval by the commission through their vote on the regulation.”)
The fine was for Gloria failing to timely file a Candidate Intention Statement (Form 501) before receiving contributions to his candidate-controlled committee, Todd Gloria for Assembly 2020, in violation of Government Code Section 85200.
Gloria “self-reported” the violation a day after La Prensa San Diego reported on Aug. 12 that Gloria “may have violated state law by failing to file his intention to run for re-election to the State Assembly before raising over $300,000 in a campaign committee at the same time he’s been running and raising money for San Diego mayor.”
A later La Prensa story noted that raising money before the Form 501 is filed is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
“Additionally, a fine of $10,000, or three times the amount which was improperly received, may be assessed,” the paper said.
The fact that he set up a Gloria for Assembly 2020 committee — signed under “penalty of perjury” — while also running for mayor is the subject of a lawsuit by Mat Wahlstrom of Hillcrest.
“I wish I could say I’m shocked that a politician who commits perjury and fraudulently raises corporate money for a mayoral race that does not allow corporate donors would be slapped on the wrist. But I’m not,” Wahlstrom said via email.
He said the FPPC was designed to protect officeholders “first and foremost.”
“This is what’s wrong with our system,” Wahlstrom said. “This is why I filed suit in the first place. And this is why I will continue fighting to make sure that the public and Mr. Gloria both receive the justice they deserve.”
Such offenses are generally considered lower level types of violations, and each particular case has a penalty range, Wierenga said Friday.
“So this or any case on streamline would fit the penalty range already pre-approved in the streamline criteria,” he said, adding that all fines go to the state General Fund.
Gloria’s main mayoral opponent is fellow Democrat Barbara Bry, the San Diego councilwoman. She pulled papers Thursday from the City Clerk’s Office, a spokesman said. (Gloria picked up papers Wednesday.)
The Bry campaign told Times of San Diego in a statement: “Todd Gloria has acknowledged that he violated the Political Reform Act, but the FPPC findings don’t address the fact that he is using this ruse to funnel $300,000 of special interest corporate and PAC contributions – which are illegal under the city’s campaign laws – into his mayoral campaign.”
On Wednesday, Voice of San Diego quoted Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson on the pickle Gloria found himself in by appearing to run for two offices at the same time.
“If you file a statement of intention, the idea is you’re signing a document with the government to say, ‘I intend to run for this seat,’ not ‘I intend to use this campaign account to move money, even if that movement of money may be legal,’” Levinson told Voice’s Andrew Keatts.
But filing the form might not be considered perjury, she said.
“Comments to the press saying that he isn’t running aren’t under-oath statements,” she said. “How many times have presidential candidates said, ‘I’m not running,’ only to change their mind?”
Updated at 2:23 p.m. Nov. 15, 2019
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