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No on ABCUSD Bond Measure AA Campaign Committees Could Be in Violation of Campaign Laws

By Brian Hews

Hews Media Group-Community News has learned that the committees that opposed the ABCUSD Bond Measure AA possibly violated campaign finance reporting laws that could result in a Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) investigation.

The FPPC enforces the provisions of the Political Reform Act. The act gives the FPPC the ability to investigate and prosecute violations of the PRA. A violation of the act may be prosecuted for a penalty and fines of up to $5,000 for each violation.

Back in early October, a Cerritos resident received a No on AA mailer and brought it into HMG-CN offices.

The next day, HMG-CN called Benjamin Ao of the United Homeowners Alliance who told HMG-CN that he had spent “over $4,000” on a mailer opposing measure AA.

The mailer contained several fabrications that were debunked by this newspaper.

HMG-CN called Ao and asked him about the mailer, which he stood behind.

But when asked if the committee had filed forms with the FPPC Ao responded, “no, and we have no money, I just put it on my credit card.”

The call was made two days after the mailer was brought into HMG-CN offices.

Ao’s statement to HMG-CN places the committee in violation of FPPC laws requiring campaign committees that receive over $1,000 in donations to report within 24 hours after receiving the money.

In 2012, the Legislature amended Section 82036 of the PRA to expand the period in which committees must file immediate disclosure reports. Effective January 1, 2013, the requirement for committees to file 24-hour contribution reports (Form 497) was extended from 16 days before an election to 90 days before an election.

Ao’s actions could also violate FPPC law requiring that the use of credit cards be used for campaign purposes only, no personal items can be charged on the card.

HMG-CN is investigating the two other committees that opposed Measure AA for similar violations.

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