State may fine Greenheart committee for campaign finance filing violation

FPPC proposes $2,500 fine

Local developer Greenheart may pay $2,500 for failing to report its non-monetary donation of a telephone survey to the "No on Measure M" committee, according to the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.

The committee was funded exclusively by Greenheart to oppose a measure on the November 2014 ballot that would have restricted development on El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

Representative Bob Burke said the committee immediately filed an amended return upon learning of the possible violation and reviewing the filings. He described it as an "inadvertent overlooking of an expense that was paid for prior to the formation of the Committee for a Vibrant Downtown."

"We made an honest error and corrected as soon as we were made aware of it by the FPPC," Mr. Burke said.

The survey, with an estimated value of $31,030, was conducted by Godbe Corporation in July 2014 and was paid for by Greenheart.

The development company was the sole donor to that committee, chipping in $200,000 and $2,500 in consulting fees, both of which were reported on time, the FPPC report states.

The report also concludes that since Greenheart openly sponsored the "No on M" committee, "it's unlikely that No on M was trying to hide the contribution. Greenheart's support for No on M would have been apparent to any person who viewed either (Greenheart or No on M) campaign filings."

However, since the non-monetary contribution was not disclosed to the public until after the election, the FPPC opted to propose a penalty.

State law requires a committee to file reports disclosing the total amount of contributions and the source of any donations worth at least $100. In Greenheart's case, the "No on M" committee should have included the survey in the pre-election report due Oct. 5, 2014.

The commission is scheduled to decide on May 21 whether to impose the fine.

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7 people like this
Posted by Get big $ out of politics
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm

I hope Greenheart is fined the full amount. Campaign finance should be transparent so voters are fully aware of the big $ and possible ulterior motives. It is impossible to know if this was intentional or unintentional. The amount is minuscule compared to the campaign spending but perhaps it will compel future donors to be more thorough in their campaign filings.

6 people like this
Posted by Missing the point
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 15, 2015 at 8:13 pm

The lack of important disclosure was much more than the report not filed with the state FPPC. The poll was a "push poll" intended to influence voter thinking, in addition to testing messages. There should be no place for this in our small town.

There should be no excuse for not disclosing greenheart's name when the poll was conducted.Greenheart and attorney Tim Tosta knew full well what they were doing. I hope the fine is the maximum allĂ´wable.

2 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 16, 2015 at 8:50 am

pogo is a registered user.

A $2,500 fine is a very small drop in the bucket in the world of developer politics. They spend more that that for a decent lunch with their consultants.

Fines are a cost of doing business.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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