Consequence-less Violations by the Sea

First, a little bit of information for those who don’t spend all their time reading about the latest campaign finance laws: California passed the Political Reform Act in 1974, which set rules for campaign fundraising, expenditures, reporting, etc.  Local jurisdictions can make additional rules.  One fun fact is that sometimes these local rules do not have any penalties or consequences associated with them.  This seems to be part of the problem in Chula Vista.

In 2021, Councilmember Andrea Cardenas was accused of violating the city’s election laws.  Instead of the city or county investigating the allegations, the city rules require an attorney, who is unaffiliated with the city, to investigate.  That attorney reviewed the information and informed the city that probable cause exists, showing Cardenas “negligently violated” the law.  Per city rules, the matter was then referred to another attorney, who is also unaffiliated with the city.  That was 14 months ago and even the Union-Tribune has been unable to get a response as to why there has been no action since then.

Now get out the butcher paper and make a chart.  Cardenas works for the political consulting firm Grassroots Resources, which is owned by her brother who is also chief of staff to a San Diego Councilmember.  Grassroots Resources partners with TMC Direct which appears to be a print and mailing house.  The allegations against Cardenas are related to expenditures, bills, and credit extended by TMC Direct.

The U-T story has additional details about all the players and a campaign finance accusation against Councilmember John McCann who is currently running for Mayor.  The outside attorney, who has not acted on the Cardenas matter, did refer the McCann complaint to the FPPC.  

Those standing around the watercooler are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice.  However, we are allowed to give common sense advice.  The City of Chula Vista should revise their local finance laws.  Soon. 

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