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What I thought was going to be a quick check at Irvine City Hall for a slate mailer’s financial disclosure statement has turned into a frustrating shell game.
The disclosure statements are for the Voter Assistance Guide slate mailer committee — which has been distributing slate mailers touting Democratic candidates for the Irvine City Council race.
In the past, such slate mailer committees collected hundreds of thousands of dollars and were criticized for taking advantage of a loophole in Irvine’s strict $440 campaign contribution limit. Community News and Views, a 2008 slate mailer made up to look like a newspaper, took contributions from other committees bankrolled by Great Park consultants that received no-bid contracts with the park.
Over the past couple of days there has been confusion over the status of the recent committee’s disclosure statements. Both city and state officials have told me the other is responsible for keeping the disclosure statements.
I started with the Irvine city clerk’s office, where officials said that because the committee was filed as a statewide slate mailer, disclosure statements should have been filed with the California Secretary of State.
However, an official with the secretary of state’s office gave a different explanation. The official said the committee had been filed as a citywide slate mailer until a new filing changed that to a statewide slate mailer on Oct. 5, the day finance disclosure statements were due.
The state official said the committee doesn’t have to file a disclosure statement with the state until the next filing deadline, Oct. 21, and that the city clerk’s office is responsible for issuing a late notice to the committee if the clerk doesn’t have the disclosure statement.
I spoke Wednesday morning with the committee’s treasurer, Daralyn Reed, about the confusion. Reed’s answers to most of the questions were brief and evasive. After I explained the refiling situation to her, Reed said that there had been a lot of confusion due to a new slate mailer committee manual.
When I pressed further, Reed said she wasn’t authorized to comment.
After hearing about the confusion, City Clerk Sharie Apodaca said she wasn’t aware that her office was required to keep the disclosure statement under those circumstances. She said her office would check with the Fair Political Practices Commission regarding the rules governing slate mailer committees.
Meanwhile, I still haven’t seen financial disclosures that I should have been able to see late last week.
Things got even more confusing late Wednesday when Apodaca called me and said she spoke with Reed, who told Apodaca that she filed a hard copy with the secretary of state and the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Apodaca said she would obtain a copy from the county and provide it to Voice of OC tomorrow.
Stay tuned …