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Ex-Richmond official files FPPC complaint

Richmond Councilman Jim Rogers

Richmond Councilman Jim Rogers

Former Richmond Councilman John Marquez has filed two complaints against Councilman Jim Rogers, alleging that his one-time colleague violated campaign finance laws and may have cost him re-election in November.

In a complaint filed today with the Fair Political Practices Commission, Marquez states that Rogers formed an illegal committee, loaned it $28,000 to pay for three attack mailers and failed to include proper disclaimers.

Marquez said Rogers also violated a city ordinance that limits contributions in Richmond campaigns to $2,500.

“These illegal mailings were just plain wrong,” Marquez said. “Jim Rogers is a lawyer and member of the City Council and he promoted and voted in support of Richmond’s Campaign Finance Ordinance. He should have known that it was wrong.”

Rogers said that he amended his committee type with the state last fall after he was made aware by the Contra Costa Times of a problem.

John Marquez

John Marquez

Under state campaign finance law, candidates cannot create and control independent expenditure committees. The regulation is intended to prevent elected officials from using such committees to avoid disclosure or sidestep compliance with contribution limits.

“I didn’t realize at the time that I had screwed up the paperwork,” he said. “Once it was brought to may attention, I called the (state) and followed their advice.” Continue Reading

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Questions emerge about Richmond councilman’s campaign expenses

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?

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Voter turn-out already huge

I stopped at the Contra Costa County election office this morning in downtown Martinez to pick up campaign finance reports. Geeminy. It was nuts.

It was even crazier on Sunday — 900 people came downtown Martinez on a Sunday to vote.

“Never, never, never in my career have I seen anything like this,” said Registrar of Voters Steve Weir on his way through the office.

As of Monday afternoon, Weir reported that 35 percent of registered voters had already voted. That’s about the same percentage that voted in the entire June primary election.

Just wait until tomorrow.

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Esquire magazine endorses Gerber over Tauscher

Esquire magazine cover

Esquire magazine cover

I confess, when I first heard this news, I thought, “What does Esquire magazine have against Rep. Ellen Tauscher?”

The magazine released its 2008 endorsement recommendations for California and it chose long-shot Republican challenger Nick Gerber over incumbent Democratic Rep. Tauscher. Here’s what the magazine said:

Tauscher seems often to be caught between her Wall Street background and her party’s policy goals. It leads to friction in Washington and at home. Her opponent, successful investor Nicholas Gerber, blends the district’s liberal and entrepreneurial values.
Esquire endorses: Gerber

“Liberal and entrepreneurial” values?

Okay, entrepreneurial is probably accurate. I have no reason to question Gerber’s professional background.

But liberal? True, he’s  pro-choice but he is also a former Libertarian.

Nick Gerber

Nick Gerber

I seriously doubt that liberals in this heavily Democratic district who chafe at some of Tauscher’s moderate positions will find Gerber an acceptable alternative. If you are curious about his positions, you can read them on the issues page of his website.

I have no idea what information Esquire used to make its endorsement decision. Gerber says the magazine never contacted him.

The magazine also named two Californians among its choices for top 10 worst members of Congress –Democrat reps. Pete Stark of Fremont and Joe Baca of San Bernardino.

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Vote-by-mail errors found in Contra Costa County

The Contra Costa County election office urges residents who vote by mail to check their ballot envelopes and make sure they contain two distinct ballots.

As of noon Tuesday, eight voters reported that they failed to receive both of the cards needed to cast their votes.

Voters should receive two cards in their ballot. The first card contains the candidates and local ballot measures. The second features the 12 state ballot propositions.

If you do not have both cards, call the Elections Office at 925-335-7800, or call the toll-free number at 1-877-335-7802.

The phones are staffed during Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., Oct. 18 and 19 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

If you get a voice-mail message, please leave your name and phone number, and a clerk will return your call.

Replacement ballots will be hand-delivered as soon as possible.