The political group that formed earlier this year to support Vicki Veenker's bid for the state Assembly is facing a $2,500 fine for failing to include a proper disclaimer on one of its campaign advertisements.
The Silicon Valley Progressive Women for Equity and Oportunidad Supporting Vicki Veenker for Assembly 2016, which raised more than $260,000 in contributions for Veenker's campaign, was found in violation of the Political Reform Act. That's because one of the mailers sent out by the group failed to comply with a provision that requires disclosure statements to be printed "clearly and legibly in no less than 14-point, bold, sans serif type font and in a conspicuous manner," according to the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
The FPPC learned of the violation when its Enforcement Division received a complaint in early October, alleging the improper disclosure. The words "Paid for by" and the committee's name were not in 14-point font, the complaint stated, and the mailer did not have an independent expenditure disclaimer box that states, "This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office."
The committee, whose principal officer is veteran Democratic politician Liz Figueroa, admitted that it did not use the right font or have the disclaimer box on the 106,808 mailers it had sent out, according to the FPPC. In addition, the FPPC noted that the advertisement uses the name "Silicon Valley Progressive Women for Equity and Oportunidad" but omits the last part of the name, which identifies to the voters that the group was formed primarily to support Veenker, according to the FPPC.
As an independent-expenditure committee, the group had no coordination with Veenker's official campaign.
The violations carry a maximum penalty of $5,000, though the commission has the option of imposing a smaller fine based on intent, seriousness of violation and whether there was a pattern of violations, among other factors. In this case, the political group's cooperation with the Enforcement Division was a mitigating factor in the division recommending the $2,500 fine -- a recommendation that the FPPC is expected formally accept at its meeting Thursday.
According to the stipulation from the Enforcement Division, the FPPC and pro-Veenker committee have agreed to "resolve all factual and legal issues raised by this matter and to reach a final disposition without the necessity of holding an additional administrative hearing to determine the liability of the Committee."
Despite the committee's support, Veenker lost the race for the Assembly seat to Palo Alto Councilman Marc Berman, who benefited from more than $1 million in independent expenditures. His major supporters included EdVoice, the California Association of REALTORS, California Apartment Association and Californians Allied for Patient Protection.