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Commerce City Council Candidate Tina Baca Del Rio Using Campaign Funds to Pay FPPC Fines

 

Baca Del Rio used $4,500 of her campaign funds to pay a FPPC fine. If personal use of campaign funds is included in the FPPC violation, campaign funds cannot be used to pay the fine.

 

From FPPC handboo: “But campaign funds of any amount may not be used to pay a fine, penalty, judgment, or settlement relating to an improper use of campaign funds.”

 

By Brian Hews

A 2015 Hews Media Group-Community News expose on Commerce Mayor pro tem Tina Baca Del Rio resulted in California’s Fair Political Practices Commission levying a record $104,000 fine on the embattled politician.

Baca Del Rio’s penalty was $64,000 more than the $40,000 fine levied in 2011 on former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

It was the largest FPPC fine levied against a local elected official.

At the time, HMG-CN spoke to several law experts who indicated that the DA could hit Baca Del Rio with felony embezzlement charges.

During 2011, Baca Del Rio reported that she made a $6,000 loan to the committee.

The FPPC “repeatedly asked for evidence to substantiate the loan but none was provided.”

During that time, Baca Del Rio “re-paid” herself by transferring over $8,000 from the committee into her personal bank account through a series of 14 transfers.

Further, Baca Del Rio’s committee paid for two charges at Lowe’s for $418 and $960 that was not disclosed on her committee statements.

According to a FPPC interview, Baca Del Rio indicated she was “remodeling her kitchen and her husband accidentally used the committee bank card for the expenditures at Lowe’s.”

Baca Del Rio tried to backtrack telling the FPPC that she later “deposited $1,500 in cash into the committee,” but, according to the FPPC, “the source of the cash could not be confirmed nor was any evidence found to substantiate the repayment.”

All tolled, Baca Del Rio personally used and never repaid $9,500 out of her various campaign finance committee accounts.

In their decision, the FPPC blasted Baca Del Rio saying, “while Baca Del Rio claims to have made loans to the committee and repaid the expenditure made to Lowe’s, she has provided no evidence to substantiate any repayment.”

“Personal use of campaign funds violates the trust of the contributors giving to that campaign and is a serious violation of the Political Reform Act. Baca Del Rio had ample opportunity to provide any documentation to show she made any repayments or loans to the committee, which she has not provided and no checks or other documentation supporting the idea that a loan occurred has been uncovered through our detailed investigation.”

 

 

 

Baca Del Rio was hit with four counts of failing to file campaign disclosure statement and fined $20,000.

She was also hit with 14 violations of failing to file late contribution reports and fined $56,000, and three counts of failure to file annual fees and slammed with an $8,000 fine.

Finally she was hit with 4 counts of “personal use probation” and fined $20,000 for a record total of $104,000 for a local elected official.

It is that “personal use probation” that could cause the district attorney to look at the Baca Del Rio case once again.

An examination of campaign documents by HMG-CN has revealed that Baca Del Rio, who is a Commerce City Council candidate, paid part of her record FPPC fine using $4,500 from her City Council campaign funds which is a violation of Penal Code 86.

 

Page from Baca Del Rio’s campaign finance report showing the $4,500 payment to the FPPC.

 

The FPPC states, “Generally, campaign funds may be used to pay the following fines, penalties, judgments, and settlements:

Parking citations received while performing political, legislative, or governmental activities.

Fines assessed in relation to situations in which the use of campaign funds to pay for an attorney is allowed (discussed above).

Fines imposed for late filing of campaign statements and Statements of Economic Interests (Form 700).

“But campaign funds of any amount may not be used to pay a fine, penalty, judgment, or settlement relating to an improper use of campaign funds.”

“If an expenditure confers a substantial personal benefit on the candidate, the expenditure must be directly related to a political, legislative, or governmental purpose. A substantial personal benefit means an expenditure of campaign funds which results in a direct personal benefit with a value of more than $200.”

Baca Del Rio was found using $1,378 paying for appliances in her kitchen, and was fined by the FPPC.

Calls into Baca Del Rio went unreturned.

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