Wednesday Mar 19 2008
Warning issued in election mailer snafu
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
Jim Williams failed to name builders association as sponsors of campaign
Failure to identify that a builders association sponsored campaign mailers in the 2006 town council election has earned a prominent Loomis resident a warning. In a letter dated Feb. 20, Bridgette Longero, of the Fair Political Practices Commission, told Jim Williams that the state agency had determined that the committee Next Spring (in) Loomis was a committee sponsored by the Committee for Home Ownership, sponsored by the North State Building Industry Association. Since Next Spring Loomis received more than 80 percent of its contributions from the North State Building Industry Association, the full name of the builder's association should have been included in the name of the committee, said Longero, a counsel for the commission's enforcement division. Not only did the mailers endorse candidates Russ Kelley and Greg Obranovich for town council, they also targeted incumbents Miguel Ucovich and Walt Scherer. Voters elected Ucovich, Scherer and Kelley to the council. Obranovich, who continues to serve on the town's planning commission, lost his bid for one of the three open council seats. Ucovich, who filed the complaint with the Fair Politicial Practices Commission in October 2006, said he is satisfied with the outcome. I'm glad that they rendered the decision, even though it's well past the election, he said. He was also happy that the public would know who funded the mailers. It just indicates that a great amount of money was contributed by the building industry, he added. The mailers from Next Spring in Loomis included only a Loomis post office box as a return address. However, Williams, a former county supervisor and partner in the Roseville architectural firm Williams + Paddon, admitted to the Loomis News in a Nov. 2, 2006 story that he authored the mailers. In a statement to the Loomis News last week, Williams said he thought the mailers had been handled correctly. I relied on the people that were professionals to file all the proper reports and I assumed the material met the letter of the law, Williams said. Scherer, however, has more questions and has asked that the item be placed on the agenda for the council's April 8 meeting. Scherer said he wants to know if council members have any further questions, or there may be questions that the public has, he said. The letter doesn't say how much money the builders gave to the campaign, or if there was coordination with them between Jim Williams and the builders association. It doesn't answer the question about how closely they coordinated the plan to attack our elections, Scherer said. While the Fair Political Practices Commission has decided to close the case, it does admonish Williams that the letter serves as a written warning and that the information will be retained and may be considered should an enforcement action become necessary based on future conduct or newly discovered information. Failure to comply in the future may result in an enforcement action, including monetary penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation, the letter warns.