Rent control campaign committee agrees to pay $6,000 for campaign violations

By the Daily Post staff

The committee behind the 2016 measure that brought rent control to Mountain View has agreed to settle alleged campaign law violations by paying the state a $6,000 fine, according to a proposed settlement released today.

The Committee for Yes on Measure V sponsored by the Mountain View Tenants Coalition has agreed that it committed the following violations:

• It failed to accurately report contributions and expenditures on disclosure forms;

• On its window signs, the type saying who paid for the sign was too small;

• And it didn’t give its address on two mass mailings.

The campaign committee, committee treasurer Steve Chandler and consultant Mitchell Oster of Eveleth Consulting Group were named as respondents in the complaint brought by the Fair Political Practices Commission or FPPC.

Today the FPPC released the proposed settlement in the case. The five-member commission (currently four members due to a vacancy) is scheduled to vote Nov. 19 on whether to accept the settlement that was recommended by Galena West, chief of the FPPC’s enforcement office.

The FPPC could have hit the committee with a penalty of $15,000, or $5,000 a violation. But the FPPC said the violations didn’t appear to be deliberate “as the Committee and Chandler were not sophisticated with the (state Political Reform) Act.” But the FPPC said consultant Oster was negligent because he had prior experience as a campaign consultant.

The settlement document said the committee raised $40,993.87 in contributions and spent $40,823.79. But the FPPC’s investigators checked the campaign’s bank records and found that the disclosure statements filed before the election had errors in which contributions were over reported at times and under reported at other times. Same with spending by the committee.

The FPPC received sworn complaints about the errors, and when the agency told Chandler about them, he amended the disclosure reports. But the amended reports still contained errors, the FPPC said.

Also, the law requires that a campaign report any donations over $1,000 within 24 hours if it comes in 90 days before the election. The FPPC said the committee and Chandler were one to two days later in filing five such 24-hour contribution reports totaling $14,000, and 12 to 14 days late in filing two 24-hour reports totaling $2,007.79.

The FPPC also said that the committee, Chandler and Oster created and produced 250 window signs in which the “paid for” disclosure was too small. The signs were 12.5 inches in height and 18 inches wide. The disclosure statement was one-third of an inch high. The law requires that it be 5% of the sign’s height, or five-eighths of an inch. The disclosure was 53% smaller than required, the FPPC said.

The FPPC said the committee sent out two mailers that didn’t give the committee’s address as required by law. They did identify the committee by name, however.

The settlement agreement doesn’t indicate who reported the violations to the FPPC.