Political signs advocating "no" votes on two San Anselmo ballot measures are apparently legal, although the expense was not disclosed on campaign finance documents.
The professionally made political signs have been posted around town since September saying "No on E, No on F." Measure E is about a flatland floor-area ratio ordinance that would limit the size of homes built or remodeled on small lots. Measure F is a tax on customers who stay at hotels - of which the town only has one, the San Anselmo Inn.
Expense reports for the No on E campaign, called Too FAR, do not list receipts for such political signs; the final deadline to report campaign receipts before the election was Oct. 22.
There is no official No on F campaign. Proponents and opponents did not officially organize and file statewide finance forms because it is not required when less than $1,000 is either spent or accepted in such a ballot measure campaign.
Too FAR campaign treasurer Marilyn Ormond said she has not been given a receipt for the combination E/F signs. Peter McNair, co-owner of the San Anselmo Inn with his wife, Julie, said he contributed $275 to the signs that oppose both measures and that another No on F advocate, Jeff Kroot, paid another portion.
Kroot, an architect and candidate for Town Council, said the expense was placed on his credit card and he has yet to turn in the receipt.
"We did them together, and it was done on a shoestring budget," he said. "The No on E people were also No on F people. Yes, I should have had No on E reimburse me for it."
Roman Porter, a spokesman for the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said everything is legal as long as McNair and Kroot were acting as individuals and not at the behest of the Too FAR campaign. If less than $1,000 was spent and fewer than 200 signs were erected, all is well, Porter said. Kroot said that is the case.
"Anybody can advocate for or against a ballot measure or a candidate," Porter said. "I could go out right now and spend $999 on No on E signs and put them up and not have to disclose anything as long as I don't buy more than 200 signs."
Had McNair and Kroot worked in conjuction with Too FAR to put up the signs, their expenses should have been listed as in-kind contributions on Too FAR's expense sheet, Porter said.
Mayor Peter Breen, who is also up for re-election, said he looked into the matter with the state commission.
"The town doesn't want to get in the middle of this fray, but there are candidates who are operating outside the spirit of the law," he said. "It's very much like my thing the other day (missing a deadline to file his campaign forms). ... My suggestion is that next time we bring all candidates and all committees together before an election and decide how we're going to play by the rules."
The opposing Measure E committees have spent and received almost identical amounts.
The Smart Growth, Yes on E Committee, which is in favor of retaining an "anti-monster home" ordinance passed by the San Anselmo Town Council in October 2008, has received $2,055 and spent $1,517.
The Too Far Committee, which contends the ordinance is poorly written and could be much better, has received $1,934 and spent $1,406.
Read more Election stories at the IJ's Election section.
Contact Brent Ainsworth via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org