FPPC says North Salinas Valley Fund broke law
Published: December 7, 2012
THE GROUP that was Monterey County
supervisor candidate Marc Del Piero’s main financial supporter
broke state law when it failed to disclose $95,000 in
contributions to him and two other candidates this year,
according to a state agency that investigates violations of the
Political Reform Act.
At a meeting Dec. 13 in San Diego, the California Fair
Political Practices Commission will consider whether the North
Salinas Valley Fund for Responsible Growth should be fined for
not filing a campaign statement disclosing contributions of
$45,000 to Del Piero, $35,000 to 4th District Supervisor Jane
Parker and $15,000 to Ed Mitchell, who plans to challenge Lou
Calcagno for the 2nd District county supervisor spot in 2014.
The three contributions were made March 20.
The North Salinas group, considered by the FPPC to be a “major
donor committee,” is charged with violating Government Code
section 84200, which requires semiannual statements be filed
each year no later than July 31 for the period ending June 30,
and no later than Jan. 31 for the period ending December 31.
While FPPC staff found the North Salinas group had violated the
law by not filing the appropriate Form 461, the commission will
consider whether to fine the group $1,350. The commission also
has the option of rejecting the charge although that’s unlikely
since the group admitted fault.
“The commission does have the final word,” FPPC enforcement
officer Gary Winuk told The Pine Cone Tuesday.
The three-page decision by the FPPC lists Marjorie Kay as the
Winuk said county clerks are required to report groups or
candidates who fail to file campaign statements.
“Anybody who doesn’t file statements is going to get turned
in,” he said.
In a big-money push to oust longtime incumbent 5th District
Supervisor Dave Potter, the North Salinas group gave Del Piero a
total of $132,500. Another $14,000 came from Curtis Spitler, who
is the husband of the North Salinas Fund’s chair, Julie Engell.
The effort failed, and Potter, who accused the North Salinas
group of trying to “buy the election,” was reelected.
The group also donated $197,600 this year to LandWatch Monterey
County, with which it’s closely aligned.
The group’s large donations prompted Ron Chesshire, CEO at the
Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades
Council, to petition county supervisors to limit direct campaign
contributions to local political candidates.
Chesshire informed the FPPC of the group’s deadline blunder.
Engell told the Monterey County Herald this week that the group
simply missed the filing deadline. Once the mistake, was
realized, she said, the forms were filled out and turned in the
Engell also said the group wasn’t trying to hide anything and
was “embarrassed” by the oversight.
The tax-exempt North Salinas group came into its cash bonanza
in 2008 when it received a $600,000 settlement stemming from a
legal fight it waged with Monterey County over permits for
Butterfly Village, the proposed residential development north of
The group was then called the San Juan Opposition Coalition.
Del Piero lost to Potter by 55 percent to 45 percent in the
Nov. 6 election.