SAN JOSE -- The state's political watchdog commission has proposed a $2,500 fine against an independent committee that supported re-election of San Jose Councilwoman Rose Herrera last fall.
The penalty is based on one of two allegations in a complaint filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission in mid-October by the San Jose Police Officers' Association, which opposed Herrera.
The FPPC found that the committee backing Herrera violated state law by failing to disclose the names of its largest contributors in a mass mailing. But the FPPC said the committee had cooperated during its review and that its failure to include the required disclaimers was not intentional. Because the committee immediately agreed to cease any mailings with the inadequate campaign disclosures, the FPPC lowered the fine, which could have been $5,000 plus up to three times the cost of the mailings.
The police union also alleged that a $100,000 donation to the San Jose Reform Committee Supporting Rose Herrera for City Council 2012 violated campaign laws governing the transfer of money between political committees because it came from a committee linked to Mayor Chuck Reed's Measure B pension reform campaign.
Herrera is a Reed ally who supported the mayor's pension reform Measure B, which San Jose voters passed overwhelmingly in June. Herrera's opponent, attorney Jimmy Nguyen, was supported by an independent committee funded by the police union, among others. The union is fighting Measure B in court.
In a five-page FPPC report Friday, the commission only addressed the mailing violation. The allegation about the $100,000 contribution is still under review.
"We're appreciative that the state's political watchdog confirmed that the committee supporting Rose Herrera violated the law, and we eagerly await the outcome of the ongoing investigation of Mayor Chuck Reed's illegal funneling of $100,000 to further support Rose Herrera," said Tom Saggau, spokesman for the San Jose POA.
Matt Mahood, chief executive officer of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, which helped establish the independent committee to support Herrera, said the group learned a good lesson.
"Once we were notified of the technical violation," he said, "we took immediate action to correct the error and to ensure that it would not happen again in the future."
Both sides have agreed to the fine, which must be signed off by the FPPC's board at its Feb. 28 meeting.
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408 275-0140.