DOWNTOWN — Having already raised objections to the campaign season tactics of the group Santa Monicans for Quality Government with City Hall, Diana Gordon, co-chair of the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, has taken the battle against the group up a notch by filing a detailed complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

The complaint, which Gordon said was sent to the FPPC on Tuesday, consists of a 16-page account of how SMQG allegedly failed to disclose information about its donors in a timely fashion and 64 pages worth of supporting exhibits.

“There’s a cloud over this entire City Council election,” Gordon said on Wednesday, “because there was no transparency and the election rules that should have provided that transparency weren’t followed.”

Central to the complaint is the allegation that SMQG was required to file disclosure documents with Santa Monica’s City Clerk’s Office according to the deadlines stipulated under Santa Monica’s election laws but failed to do so.

“The actions of SMQG’s officers in refusing to file accurate and timely campaign disclosures as to its City Council mailers violated the law and deprived voters of important information they had a right to know in determining how to vote in the City Council election,” a section of the complaint states.

Gordon on Wednesday said she hopes Fred Huebscher, the organization’s president, and Kinde Durkee, its treasurer, receive fines and formal warnings from the FPPC.

Huebscher has all along insisted his group is a statewide “slate mailer organization,” not a local campaign committee, and has no obligation to provide Santa Monica’s city clerk with records of its activities.

On Wednesday, he said he believed SMQG had followed all of the rules.

“Since there’s no legal authority saying we’ve done anything wrong, I see no reason to be concerned about paying fines,” he said.

The FPPC did not confirm it had received the complaint by deadline Wednesday, and Gordon acknowledged it could be months before a decision is reached in the case.

SMQG sent out a series of four campaign mailers to Santa Monica households prior to the Nov. 2 election in support of various City Council candidates. One mailer, titled the “Santa Monica Democratic Voter Guide,” also included candidates for statewide offices.

Several of the mailers were criticized by groups including the Santa Monica police and firefighter unions and Community for Excellent Public Schools for allegedly misrepresenting the groups’ City Council endorsements.

SMQG received at least $41,000 in funding to produce and distribute the mailers from development companies and others in the real estate business, campaign disclosure documents obtained by the Daily Press the day before the election showed.

SMCLC, which advocates slow growth and is a frequent critic of large-scale development proposals, argued SMQG’s fliers were intended to hurt the City Council campaigns of Kevin McKeown and Ted Winterer — two candidates endorsed by SMCLC.

Before the election, SMCLC complained about SMQG’s campaign tactics to Santa Monica City Clerk Maria Stewart, who forwarded the complaint to the FPPC. The FPPC has not issued a response to the initial complaint.

In response to the mailers, the City Council last week moved forward with a plan to require all political action committees and other groups who issue mailers or other campaign materials that impact Santa Monica elections to file both with the state and the City Clerk’s Office. City staff is currently drafting the new law.

nickt@www.smdp.com

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.