The following complaint was filed with the city attorney and city clerk against “Richmond One Committee Opposing Tom Butt for City Council” for multiple violations of the Richmond Municipal Code intended to make elections fair and campaigns transparent.
Please consider this a complaint against and request for prosecution of “Richmond One Committee Opposing Tom Butt for City Council” (http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=9502) and the committee’s treasurer, Dwight Adams.
The committee produced and mailed a campaign piece that appeared in mailboxes Friday, November 2 and Saturday, November 3, which means it had to be printed and mailed prior to the “last Thursday before the City election” – RMC 2.38.030 ( November 1, 2012).
The committee’s Form 460 was required to be filed November 2, 2012, and include information on activities through November 1, 2012, but it was not actually filed until November 12, 2012 – 10 days late. This, alone, is a violation of RMC 2.38, and the violator “shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,” per RMC 2.38.40.
In addition to being filed 10 days late and depriving the public of the right to know prior to the election, the form has several errors and omissions, some constituting serious misinformation.
- It shows a nonmonetary contribution of $750 from Trade Lithography (owned by John and Stacey Lompa), identified as “printing” and an unpaid bill from Chimes Printing identified as “Lit” and “US Post Office,” for a total of $4,736.00. Typical costs of 11 x 17 mailers, excluding design and artwork exceed $10,000 when mailed to 20,000 +/- frequent voters. Postage, alone, costs over $5,000. We believe that the costs reported on the Form 460 are inaccurate and seriously underreported.
- The “Expenditures made” block on the Summary page is erroneously completed. According to the Form, Line 11 is supposed to be the sum of lines 8+9+10, but it is not.
- The amount entered in Line 20 of the Summary Sheet is erroneous because it is not applicable to this committee’s activities.
- Schedule D shows the $750 expenditure dated 11-4-2012, but if it is for printing, it had to have occurred prior to November 2, which is when the mailers first appeared in mailboxes.
Since even the underreported and tardily reported expenditures of the committee remain as an unpaid bill, there is no way for the public to determine who actually funded the committee’s activities, a subversion of all the purposes listed in 2.42.030 to make elections fair and campaigns transparent.
We believe that the total expenditure reported of $4,738.00 was intentionally underreported to avoid the disclosures required by RMC 2.42.075.
RMC 2.42.080 provides that any person who intentionally or negligently violates Section 2.42.075 of this chapter shall be liable in a civil action for an amount up to $5,000 for each violation or three times the cost of the mailing made in violation of this chapter, whichever is greater. The City Attorney is authorized to institute and prosecute any civil action pursuant to this section. Any civil penalties recovered under this section shall be deposited in the Richmond City Treasury.
Further, 2.42.080 of the RMC provides:
2.42.080 - Penalties and enforcement.
(1) Civil. Any person who intentionally or negligently violates Section 2.42.050 or 2.42.060 of this chapter shall be liable in a civil action for an amount up to $5,000 for each violation or three times the amount or value of the unlawful contribution, whichever is greater. Any person who intentionally or negligently violates Section 2.42.070 of this chapter shall be liable in a civil action for an amount up to $5,000 for each violation or three times the amount not properly reported, whichever is greater. Any person who intentionally or negligently violates Section 2.42.075 of this chapter shall be liable in a civil action for an amount up to $5,000 for each violation or three times the cost of the mailing made in violation of this chapter, whichever is greater. The City Attorney is authorized to institute and prosecute any civil action pursuant to this section. Any civil penalties recovered under this section shall be deposited in the Richmond City Treasury.
(2) Personal Liability. Candidates and treasurers are responsible for complying with this chapter and may be held personally liable for violations by their committees. Nothing in this chapter shall operate to limit the candidate's liability for, nor the candidate's ability to pay, any fines or other payments imposed pursuant to administrative or judicial proceedings.
(3) Joint and Several Liability. If two or more persons are responsible for any violation of this chapter, they shall be jointly and severally liable.
- Campaign Statement Review. (A) The City Clerk shall monitor all campaign statements and shall notify the candidate or committee of any of the following apparent violations of this chapter:
(i) Whether the required statements have been timely filed.
(ii) Whether the statements conform on their face with the requirements of this chapter.
(iii)Whether any reported contributions exceed the allowable maximums established under this chapter.
(B) The candidate or committee shall be allowed to correct any reports within five (5) days after receipt of notice of an apparent violation sent by the City Clerk.
(2) Civil Injunction Actions. The City Attorney, or any resident, may bring a civil action to enjoin violations of, or compel compliance with, the provisions of this chapter, or for civil penalties under subsection (a)(1) of this section, or both. No resident may commence an action under this subsection without first providing written notice to the City Attorney of the intent to commence an action. The notice shall include a statement of the grounds for believing a cause of action exists. The resident shall deliver the notice to the City Attorney at least 60 days in advance of filing an action for an alleged violation of Section 2.42.050, 2.42.060 or 2.42.070, or at least 10 days for an alleged violation of Section 2.42.075. No resident may commence an action under this subsection if the City Attorney has commenced a civil or criminal action against the defendant, or if another resident has filed a civil action against the defendant under this subsection. A court may award reasonable attorney's fees and costs to any party who obtains civil penalties or equitable relief under this subsection. If the Court finds that an action brought by a party under this subsection is frivolous, the Court may award the defendant reasonable attorney's fees and costs. (3) Issuance of Subpoenas. The City Attorney may issue subpoenas in furtherance of his or her duties under this chapter.