As the November finish for some bitterly-fought campaigns approaches, San Diego's ethics commission has been cleaning up legal loose ends left over from June's electoral contests, with costly outcomes for two failed city council hopefuls.
Bryan Pease, who ran in the Second District hoping to unseat incumbent Lorie Zapf, agreed to pay a $4000 penalty for failing to disclose five-figure spending on a poll, according to a stipulation with Pease approved by the commission at its October 11 meeting.
"Mr. Pease was the President of the APRL Fund, Inc., a a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization whose stated mission is 'Protecting the rights and habitats of all animals through outreach, education, lobbying, and litigation,'” per the document, posted online by the city.
"In late 2017, [Pease] commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct a telephone survey of 300 likely voters regarding candidates for City Council District 2 in the June 2018 primary election. In January of 2018, Zogby Analytics provided the survey results to [Pease], who subsequently posted them on his campaign website.
"On January 12, 2018, Zogby Analytics submitted an invoice in the amount of $10,300 to APRL for the subject survey, and on February 6, 2018, APRL paid the bill in full." The stipulation says Pease's campaign committee didn't report as required by law. "On April 26, 2018, the Committee filed a campaign statement covering the period from January 1 through April 21, 2018 but failed to disclose the $10,300 nonmonetary contribution from APRL."
According to the document, "Commission staff contacted [Pease] and his representative numerous times beginning on May 15, 2018, asking [Pease] to immediately file an amended campaign statement to disclose the payment made for the subject poll. [Pease] failed to file the requested amendment before the primary election on June 5, 2018, thereby depriving voters of relevant information concerning his campaign financing."
Pease "has a history of failing to comply with the City’s campaign laws," the stipulation says. "In particular, he paid a $200 fine in October of 2017 as a result of his failure to timely file a campaign statement associated with his 2016 candidacy for City Attorney. In addition, the Commission’s audit of his 2012 campaign for City Council District 1 revealed that he failed to adequately maintain campaign records and failed to include a 'paid for by' disclosure on a newspaper campaign advertisement."
In addition to the disclosure trouble, the non-profit's in-kind donation represented an illegal contribution by an organization to a city candidate. "On June 19, 2018, after being advised by Commission staff that the payment by APRL for the Zogby Analytics poll constituted an unlawful nonmonetary contribution, [Pease] made a personal payment to the Committee in the amount of $10,300, and the Committee subsequently issued payment to APRL in the same amount."
According to a post-mortem on Pease's campaign website, "Despite being massively outspent, we came within 496 votes (1.5%) of making the runoff, out of over 32,000 total cast."
After placing third to Republican Zapf and fellow Democrat Jennifer Campbell, Pease sued the city in an unsuccessful legal effort to remove Zapf from the race, alleging that her bid for reelection was barred by term limits. Zapf argued that law didn't apply to her because she had ended up in a new district after boundary lines were redrawn.
Meanwhile, over in the Sixth District, computer specialist Kevin Egger, who ran under the banner of the American Solidarity Party of California against Republican incumbent Chris Cate, agreed to fork over $1500 for failing to file all three legally-required pre-election campaign disclosure statements.
"The City Clerk made numerous efforts to contact Respondent via email and telephone regarding his filing responsibilities, both before and after the filing deadlines. Despite these efforts by the City Clerk, Respondent failed to file any campaign statements until June 15, 2018, more than a week after the June 5, 2018 primary election."
The solidarity party's website, which lists Egger as chairman, says the group "stands for the sanctity of human life, the necessity of social justice, responsibility for the environment, and hopes for the possibility of a peaceful world." Egger got 4.09 percent of the vote, landing him last in a field of six.
Democrat Tommy Hough went on to November's runoff against incumbent Cate, who in April was required to pay a $1500 ethics commission fine resulting from illegal efforts to raise campaign cash from city workers.