A local political action committee was fined $11,500 after a state watchdog group last month determined they broke a state campaign law several times.
The Elk Grove Education Association (EGEA) has a political action committee that reportedly failed to file campaign documents by deadline during the 2016 election year.
This committee supported three Elk Grove school board candidates and the Measure M school bond campaign in 2016.
The EGEA represents more than 3,000 teachers and other school employees in the Elk Grove Unified School District. Their political action committee received more than $65,000 in contributions and spent more than $110,600 during the 2016 election year, according to a California Fair Political Practices Commission report.
They endorsed the successful campaigns for Elk Grove School Trustees Chet Madison, Carmine Forcina, and Nancy Chaires Espinoza. Volunteers also operated a phone banking center at the EGEA office to promote Measure M, a $476 million bond to fund renovations for aging campuses. Voters also approved that bond during the election.
Investigators for the California Fair Political Practices Commission found that the EGEA’s political action committee did not file three campaign statements and six campaign contribution reports by deadline in 2016. This investigation was prompted by a sworn complaint that was filed less than two weeks before the November 2016 election.
Commission staff ultimately determined there was no foul play.
“The Enforcement Division found no evidence that respondents intended to conceal, deceive, or mislead,” the commission’s report stated. “Instead, the violations contained herein appear to have been the result of negligence.”
The report also mentions that the violations were caused by the change in treasurers within the political action committee. The group also lacked prior violations of campaign laws.
EGEA President Kathleen Tijan could not be reached for comment, as of press time.
Under the state’s Political Reform Act, candidates or organizations must report campaign contributions or expenditures that are more than $100 by the state’s deadline. “Late contributions” received or spent less than 90 days before the election must be reported within 24 hours.
“The public harm inherent in campaign reporting violations is that the public is deprived of important, time-sensitive information regarding political contributions,” the commission report stated.
Fines imposed by the California Fair Political Practices Commission are paid to the state.
The EGEA formed a political action committee in 2012 during a tense time between the union and Elk Grove school district officials over budget cuts and staff layoffs. They were neutral in previous school district elections.