Richmond Councilman Jim Rogers may have run afoul of campaign finance laws when he spent big bucks promoting council candidate Jovanka Beckles. (I would post a picture of Rogers but I couldn’t find a recent photo; the one on his Wikipedia site is seriously dated.)
Rogers, who was not up for re-election, formed a committee called “Beckles for Council,” loaned it $28,000 and used the funds for pro-Beckles mailers.
Beckles has mostly likely lost the 10-way race for three open seats; she was 331 votes behind third-place finisher Councilman Nat Bates as of the nearly complete vote tally today.
State law prohibits independent expenditures by candidate-controlled committees even if the candidate is not on the current ballot. (See Fair Political Practices Act, section 85501.)
Richmond also caps city council candidate contributions at $2,500 per person per election and violators can be sued up to three times the amount of the illegal payment.
Rogers says he was unaware of the state restriction and sent a letter today to regulators at the Fair Political Practice Commission seeking an opinion on whether he violated the rule and if he did, how to make reparations.
He is an attorney who has been in public office for years; ignorance is no excuse.
But he makes an interesting point: Why is Chevron permitted to spend tens of thousands of dollars on independent expenditures while a councilmember is limited to $2,500?