SAN DIEGO, Oct. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- San Diegans for Open Government has learned that the San Diego hotel industry is violating campaign-finance laws in San Diego municipal elections. Acting through the San Diego Lodging Industry Association Political Action Committee (LIA PAC) and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association Political Action Committee (SDCTA PAC), the hotel industry has spent more than $172,000 to defeat San Diego Measures C and D without any campaign disclosures identifying the hotel industry or its members as the source. With April Boling as the treasurer for both committees, the LIA PAC spent $19,000 on mailers and paid $80,000 to the SDCTA PAC. Local hotelier Richard Bartell's company donated another $43,350 to the SDCTA PAC, which in turn paid San Diego Unified Port Commissioner Bob Nelson's public-relations firm more than $54,000 for anti-C and -D yard signs and radio ads that make no mention of the hotel industry as the monied interests behind the opposition campaign.
Because Measures C and D, Yes for San Diego, are municipal initiatives, campaign disclosures must be filed with the San Diego City Clerk. However, neither the LIA PAC nor the SDCTA PAC has filed any disclosures with the City Clerk for either initiative.
When questioned by VoiceofSanDiego.org about the lack of disclosure (http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/politics/taxpayers-associations-late-measure-d-ad-splurge-came-without-normal-disclosure/), Ms. Boling admitted that the expenditures against Measure D were made by the SDCTA PAC because there is no formal committee opposing D. According to the article, the executive director of the San Diego ethics commission, which enforces the city's campaign rules, confirmed that any expenditure of $1,000 or more on a city measure would have to be disclosed. In addition, the ethics commission's former chair was quoted as saying: "The existence of an opposing committee doesn't trigger your disclosure requirements."
The lack of campaign filings and the lack of disclosure are not minor technical errors. A formal complaint is being prepared. Penalties for campaign-finance law violations can include criminal prosecution, incarceration, and fines up to $10,000 per violation, in addition to facing civil and administrative liability.
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SOURCE San Diegans for Open Government