Vasquez says failure to report $2500 was 'oversight'

DOWNEY - The Downey Patriot has obtained a copy of an amended campaign statement filed with the city clerk's office on Dec. 8 by Councilman Fernando Vasquez that contains a previously unreported contribution of $2,500 made by Champion Dodge to Vasquez' campaign on Oct. 5, along with campaign expenses incurred during the period Oct.1-16.Records and press reports show originally that Vasquez reported no contributions were made to his campaign during that period. The general rule governing election campaign contributions, according to city clerk Kathleen Midstokke, is that all contributions - monetary and non-monetary - should be reported before the elections. If a violation of the Political Reform Act occurs (and there's a whole litany of pertinent provisions), and the Fair Political Practices Enforcement Division determines that such a violation has indeed occurred, the violator is subject to a fine of up to $5,000. Midstokke said she has on her own indeed levied fines in the past, albeit at smaller amounts, when a candidate doesn't file his/her campaign contributions report on time. At the same time, she said there are qualifications to the rule. Filing such an amended campaign statement (and thus "after the fact") naturally invites hostile finger-pointing, especially given the acrimonious nature of the political fight for District 4. When asked what reason Vasquez gave her for the omission, Midstokke replied: "He said it was a case of oversight." Midstokke said she didn't see any reason for fining Vasquez. When we asked Vasquez about this item, he said: "It was oversight by the campaign treasurer [Jane Leiderman] who handles our reporting of expenses and campaign contributions. Besides, all reports were filed by us on time. Amended statements filed later are allowed." According to the Fair Political Practices Enforcement Division website, "A matter will be fully investigated where there is sufficient information to believe that a violation of the Act has occurred. Information regarding potential violations of the Act comes from citizen complaints, referrals from other governmental agencies, media reports, audit findings or may be identified internally. "When sufficient evidence exists to prove a violation of the Act, the Enforcement Division will bring a prosecution action to the Commission, or may issue a warning letter, depending upon the facts of the case and the public harm caused."

********** Published: December 30, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 37