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Supervisor fined

Michael Schneider

El Dorado County Supervisor John Upton, who represents the Lake Tahoe portion of the county, was fined $4,500 by the Fair Political Practices Commission last week.

Upton chose not to fight the commission after it filed four counts against him for fund-raising practices during the 1994 Supervisor’s race, instead allowing the commission to fine him in a stipulation agreement.

According to Gary Huckaby, spokesperson for the commission, more than 90 percent of their cases are handled by stipulation agreement.

Upton was found to violate general campaign laws which state “receipts and expenditures in election campaigns should be fully and truthfully disclosed in, or that the voters may be fully informed and improper practices may be inhibited.”

Also, when a candidate gets a contribution of $100 or more, that candidate must keep records of those contributions which include the contributor’s full name, address, occupation and employer.

Upton said he had records of all contributions, but, in some cases, he didn’t have their occupations.

Further, the law states candidates must itemize campaign expenditures of $100 or more. Required information includes reporting the name of the person to whom the funds were expended, their address, the amount of each expenditures and a brief description of the consideration for which each expenditure was made. Upton also failed to do this consistently.

Upton was also found to have violated a law concerning late campaign contributions. If a candidate receives contributions of $1,000 or more, he must list all the subvendors who played a part in delivering the contribution, such as the post office and printers.

Uptons said the contributions which violated this law were for $1,000, one dollar above the limit.

After admitting the violations, Upton could have been fined up to $8,000. The commission cited Upton’s cooperation, confusion over some aspects of the law and a willingness to help others in the future to understand the provisions as reasons for levying less than the maximum fine.

“It was no intentional error,” Upton said. “It had no impact on my campaign.”

Upton said he would like to see the commission work with candidates before and during campaigns to eliminate confusion and mistakes leading to fines.

“I got a checklist before the audit (by the commission),” Upton said. “It would have been nice to have that before the campaign.”

He said he had an election handbook and followed the rules outlined in that book.

“I thought that’s what I was supposed to work with,” he said.

Huckaby said the campaign fund raising rules can be picked up at the South Lake Tahoe City Clerk’s office or by accessing the state secretary’s website.

Huckaby said the money collected by commission fines goes into the state’s general fund.

“Some candidates have no problem (with contribution disclosure laws) and for some it’s pick and shovel work,” Huckaby said. “But the burden is the candidate’s and treasurer’s responsibility to disclose in the interest of public awareness.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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