PINOLE -- A city councilman violated state campaign finance rules during his promotion of a candidate in the Nov. 6 council election, according to a political watchdog agency. But the violation does not warrant a fine, the state Fair Political Practices Commission said in a Feb. 25 warning letter to Phil Green and his campaign committee, Friends of Phil Green.
Green spent $922.20 in late October to produce a postcard touting candidate Ivette Ricco and $900.69 on postage, according to amended campaign finance statements Green submitted to the city in February.
Initially, Green had reported the cost of the mailer as a payment to Ricco, and in a higher amount, $1,194.08.
According to the amended form, $271.88 of the $1,194.08 actually was for posters for Green's own campaign. The posters say, "Re-Elect Phil Green," and Green bought 100 of them for $250 plus tax, according to an Oct. 30 bill from Chimes Printing of Richmond. Green would face re-election in November 2014.
Green told this newspaper Thursday he was not hiding anything.
"Basically, it was a clerical error," Green said. "That's it."
The postcard touting Ricco and the postage are in the category of "independent expenditures," which government code prohibits candidate-controlled committees from making, the FPPC says.
"Your actions violated the (Political Reform) Act because you made an independent expenditure that expressly advocated the nomination of Ivette Ricco," the FPPC wrote. "However, because you self-reported the violation, and you do not have an enforcement history, we are closing this matter with a warning letter."
Green still needs to file several forms with the Pinole city clerk in accordance with the city's campaign finance ordinance and FPPC regulations, City Attorney Ben Reyes said in a March 19 letter to Green. Among them is a Candidate Intention Statement, in view of Green's apparent decision to run for re-election in 2014 as suggested by the "Re-Elect Phil Green" posters.
Green was among Ricco's most prominent and outspoken backers in the November race, in which she finished behind incumbents Peter Murray and Roy Swearingen in a three-person contest for two council seats.
Ricco, meanwhile, is in the clear, after her campaign treasurer, Monica Shaw, told Reyes the Ricco campaign's bank records showed no contributions from Green. Ricco, in an email to this newspaper earlier this month, also said her campaign has no record of any contribution from Green.
Green said last month that Ricco knew nothing about his postcard supporting her candidacy.