The following appears on the FlashReport today:
by Scott Barnett
It should come as no surprise to the readers of this website that occasionally in politics, a politician will say one thing and do another.
But never in my career have I seen such a blatant display of hypocrisy than I have after observing Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone’s campaign for the 36th State Senate District over the last week.
After spending weeks attacking his opponent, Assemblyman Joel Anderson, for a “pattern of ethical abuse” Stone himself has engaged in a series of ethical violations. He seems to think that the rules do not apply to him, just everyone else.
Yesterday, my organization, Taxpayers Advocate, filed two formal complaints against Stone for as many as forty violations of the state campaign finance laws.
Stone failed to disclose contributions greater than $1,000 on the Internet, as required by state law (Cal government Code Section 85309). Under the California Political Reform Act — the state law adopted by voters that governs campaign finance in California, legislative candidates that report more than $50,000 in political donations are required to electronically file their campaign finance statements.
State candidates who receive contributions of $1,000 or more during the 90 days immediately preceding an election are required to electronically file a report to the Secretary of State disclosing each of these contributions within 24 hours of their receipt.
Stone’s recent campaign filings filed on May 27, 2010, show at least 41 instances of donations that he failed to properly disclose within the 24 hour period beginning on March 10, 2010. Stone’s campaign meets all the requirements for this provision and should have reported each and every donation over $1,000 within 24 hours to the California Secretary of State as of the March 10, 2010.
Stone has failed to electronically report at least $100,000 in contributions greater than $1,000, at least 41 separate contributions and each one may be considered a violation of the state Political Reform Act. If found to have violated state campaign finance laws, Stone could be subject to significant fines as each violation is subject to a maximum fine of $5,000, and potential criminal prosecution in the most extreme cases, by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
The truly appalling thing is that despite his continued attacks against Anderson, this is not the first time that Stone has ran afoul of state campaign finance laws. Previously, he was fined $2,000 by the Fair Political Practices Committee for destroying campaign finance records from a previous State Assembly race in 2000. Stone was found to have destroyed a $40,000 cashier’s check, which made it impossible to audit the finances of his previous Assembly campaign.
I have filed a second complaint against Stone for his violation of the states conflict of interest law by voting to donate funds to an organization that was his tenant in a property that he owns.
On June 16, 2009, Stone brought a motion to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to donate $49,322 in taxpayer funds to five organizations. One of these organizations, the Senior Services Center Emergency Food Program was a tenant of Supervisor Stone’s at the time. Supervisor Stone not only brought the motion to the board, he also made the motion and voted on it.
The organization received a total of $9,864 as a result of the vote in a year that it also paid Jeff Stone a total of $24,000 in rent according to his Statement of Economic Interest for 2009 which appears to be a violation of the state’s conflict of interest law.
This is not the first time this particular organization was at the center of a conflict of interest for Stone. In 2007 he voted to give the same organization $10,000 only to have to rescind the vote two weeks later as suggested by the FPPC because of a conflict of interest.
It is my hope that the Fair Political Practices Commission levies a significant fine on Jeff Stone to send a strong message to him that everyone has to play by the same rules. It is rather egregious since he has focused his entire campaign to give the appearance that he is beyond reproach ethically and clearly this evidence shows that he ranks as one of the least ethical candidates running in the state.
Scott Barnett is a President of San Diego based Taxpayers Advocate and former Executive Director of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org