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Union misses election deadline

Group files wrong form, two weeks late, with wrong agency.

April 08, 2011|By Melanie Hicken,

CITY HALL — The political action committee for the Glendale Police Officers Assn. failed to properly disclose the more than $8,000 it spent in support of City Councilman Dave Weaver’s reelection, documents show — a requirement under state law.

In the two weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election for two spots on the Glendale City Council, the police union’s political action committee sent out a mailer endorsing Weaver, whose reelection hangs in the balance.

Weaver came in second, but only by a razor-thin margin of 27 votes. The final results are expected to be released late next week after roughly 3,100 provisional and remaining vote-by-mail ballots are counted.


“Stand with your police who want what you want — a city that takes care of its own. Re-elect Dave Weaver to Glendale City Council,” the mailer read.

The committee spent $8,612 on March 24 on the mailer and an additional $3,000 on political polling to Torrance-based firm Freeman Public Affairs, according to a “recipient committee campaign statement” filed with the California Secretary of State at 4:50 p.m. on Thursday, several days after the election.

As of 4 p.m. on Friday, there was no record of the expenditure on file with the Glendale City Clerk’s Office.

State law requires that any committee that spends $1,000 or more for a communication that expressly advocates the support or opposition of a city candidate or measure within 16 days of an election must file a report with the local city clerk’s office within 24 hours of the expenditure, said Tara Stock, a spokeswoman for the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

The Glendale Police Officers Assn. political action committee filed the wrong form roughly two weeks late, and did so with the wrong agency.

Union officials could not be reached for comment.

Campaign finance experts say the late independent disclosure rules are important to make sure voters are aware of outside financial interests before the election.

Otherwise — said Jessica Levinson, director of political reform for the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles-based nonpartisan think tank — groups can “spend the money late in the game and wait to disclose after the election.”

“Failure to disclose does not necessarily mean attempt to conceal,” she said. “It’s just not appropriate, and it’s not following the rules.”

Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian agreed, but acknowledged that state law is complex and ever-changing.

“Therefore, it is important to have people who understand the law advising you,” he said. “When you don't, that's when you make mistakes, and whether they intended or not, the public court of opinion is hardly in your favor.”
FOR THE RECORD: This version clarifies the reporting requirement to include the 16-day period prior to an election.

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