By Chris Reed
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 10:24 a.m.
Assemblyman Joel Anderson
may think he's out of trouble now that he's paid a big fine to the FPPC for his attempt at campaign finance money laundering. But as a Sunday story in the Riverside Press-Enterprise laid out, a somewhat similar scheme led to criminal charges one county north.
SACRAMENTO - Nine years ago, Stephen Holgate could have given as much as he wanted to aid the Assembly aspirations of San Jacinto Councilman Jim Ayres. Both men would have been in good company.
But now the two face dozens of charges for running afoul of California's campaign-finance law. It is at the heart of last month's 155-count indictment against nine political and civic leaders in San Jacinto, and the basis of last week's charges against six more people.
The case highlights Riverside County's role as one of the few -- if only -- counties in California to prosecute contribution-limit violators, who usually are dealt with by the state's campaign-finance watchdog agency. ....
Earlier this month, the state's campaign-finance watchdog agency fined a San Diego lawmaker and a GOP group a total of $49,000 for violating Prop. 34's contribution limits.
Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, and the Fresno County Republican Party paid up after the Fair Political Practices Commission concluded that Anderson arranged for donors to give large amounts to the county committee, which in turn donated like amounts to Anderson's campaign account. Anderson is a possible candidate for a state Senate seat that includes southwest Riverside County. ....
Announcing the arrests in the San Jacinto case Nov. 12, Pacheco said "failure to enforce public-integrity laws is a threat to democracy. The public has a right to be free from corrupt individuals and elected officials." .....
A spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney's office declined to say if the office is weighing whether to file criminal charges against Anderson.
That's the same thing I was told twice by Dumanis' spokesman over the last six weeks or so. This isn't just bad news for Joel Anderson. It may also be bad news for the Hamann construction family in East County, the Barona and Sycuan tribes, and Sempra Energy, the donors who gave money to three Central and Northern California GOP county committees, which then turned around and gave money back to Anderson, in manuevers that would have allowed the assemblyman to raise more money for his 2010 Senate bid.
Besides Anderson, Sempra Energy in particular would seem vulnerable if it violated the law that is being used in the San Jacinto probe. It has a highly sophisticated political lobbying operation and would have trouble offering any variation of the we-didn't-know-it-was-wrong defense -- if Dumanis is actually looking at this seriously.
It remains simply dumbfounding that the FPPC gave the donors a pass in handing out fines -- then congratulated itself for its speedy resolution of the investigation.