Local Government

FPPC sends advisory to local officials of their responsibilities under new law (SB1439)

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), California’s governmental ethics and campaign disclosure agency, sent an advisory letter to all city and county attorneys in the State reminding them a new law regarding campaign contributions and recusals is in effect, regardless of a lawsuit aiming to rescind it.

The law, SB 1439, makes changes to Section 84308 of the Political Reform Act. It now applies to agencies whose members are directly elected by voters, including local elected officials such as city councilmembers and county supervisors serving on their respective boards, and those officials are prohibited from accepting, soliciting, or directing a contribution exceeding $250 from a party or participant for 12 months after the final decision of a proceeding.

The FPPC unanimously voted to support SB 1439, which was subsequently passed unanimously by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Newsom, taking affect January 1st, 2023.

“We have a duty to interpret and enforce all aspects of the Political Reform Act, including the amendments made by SB 1439, unless and until directed otherwise by court order. We intend to do so, and that’s why we feel it’s important to remind everyone of their responsibilities, just as we are fulfilling ours.”

The FPPC letter reminds all city and county officials the law is in effect. The FPPC is taking public comment and is working on regulations to implement the new law unless a court signifies otherwise.

Eight business groups and two local elected officials filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court to overturn the law.

SB 1439 was supported by these groups:

California Clean Money Campaign, California Common Cause, California Environmental Voters, Citizens Take Action, Consumer Watchdog, Govern for California, Inland Empire United, League of Women Voters of California, Northern California Recycling Association, and the Fair Political Practices Commission.

A link to the full letter can be found here: FPPC Letter to City Attorneys & County Counsels

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8 replies »

  1. Sharon, I have read the Observer for the better part of four decades – some years much better than others. The written stories have been very, very politicized this year. Perhaps it is due to the very nature of modern politics in this country. I doubt it. Maybe it is just poor editorial decisions being made by your family. Sometimes self-criticism makes you a better outlet for local journalism. So try and be critical of your recent history. You may not like what you see.

    • Perhaps you are reading Commentary, Community Voice, or Opinion section. I agree those can be very politically charged. If you read only the sections that say News, Local Government, Tributes, Feature you will find them to be straight reporting with no opinion. Thank you for taking time to give me critique. Saskia

    • Jim – Saskia is posting articles on what local and regional politicians who say they are representing us are doing. That is different from the way I ran the paper where I primarily focused on local city politicians – but – I think we should know what all of them are doing in our name. So I see it as a helpful addition.

  2. Voters are harder to fool Sharon? Let’s not forget it helps Observer candidates to have a local newsletter always promote them. Local journalism dies at your hands.

    • Jim – think of how many members of the public have no idea of the politics in the city and depend on the numerous but often deceptive mailers for their information. Most people in the city don’t know who the council members are or even what district they live in and don’t attend debates between. candidates even when there are some – which is also getting rarer. I totally understand that part of this is due to how difficult it is for many to just make a living and deal with taking care of their families. If you were an Observer reader you would know that the paper gives all candidates the same amount of space to tell voters their ideas before each election. If you are talking about reporting what politicians do – you might not like it – but the paper is totally honest. If ever you feel that something is in error write about that and if you are correct – corrections will be made. The agenda of the paper for all of its 45-year history is to inform residents and improve our town since the volunteers who run it live here.

  3. Unfortunately, the FPPC decided that only contributions starting after January 1, 2023 would be included – so some major donors with issues coming before the city council made their large contributions at the end of 2022.

    So far these contributions to three local council members Jung, Whitaker, and Dunlap appear to have been fruitful in the UP trail issue that is opposed by the donor (Bushala) but supported by the public.

    Also unfortunate is that contributions supporting and opposing candidates from PACs are not affected by the new law.

    In their defense – what is a politician to do? With the 2024 election coming up – none of them want to upset Bushala or his PAC “Fullerton Taxpayers for Reform”

    Everyone in town has witnessed the vicious and false mailers against several candidates in the last election put out by that PAC.
    It is interesting to note that inspite of multi-thousands the PAC spent against those targeted candidates (FSD school board member Ruthi Hanchett, and councilmembers Shana Charles and Ahmad Zahra) – they won anyway and the PACs preferred candidates lost.
    Voters may becoming harder to fool.

    So, if any of the three (Jung, Whitaker, and Dunlap) become suddenly brave enough to stand with residents and reverse their no vote on the trail and the sending back of the $1.78 Million grant that would build it – voters should remember that action.

    • I can’t help but wonder if there is some kind of implicit pact among the three council members who voted down the UP trail. Their vote has backfired and the entire city is furious. The issue has caught the attention of residents in all districts, not just 5. It would only take one council member’s flipping to get the trail approved, but this would make the other two lose a lot of credibility, just in time for next year’s elections.

      These are nothing but pure, idle speculations. But I say them aloud to illustrate that, the longer the council majority stays silent in the face of mounting community outrage, the more they encourage residents to speculate on their motives. They do not seem to appreciate that Fullerton residents are rapidly losing trust in their commitment to represent their constituents.

      • “These are nothing but pure, idle speculations. But I say them aloud to illustrate that, the longer the council majority stays silent in the face of mounting community outrage, the more they encourage residents to speculate on their motives.”

        How could we not speculate? Turning down outside money to build a long planned leg of the standing Bicycle Master Plan makes no sense whatsoever. Politicians love ribbon cuttings on parks, and with an outside grant to fund it? Come on.

        Either a powerful countervailing political interest is in play or council has committed the most ridiculous unforced error I’ve ever seen.