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May 22, 2009 - 03:35 PM

Campaign Scofflaws Fined - 3 1/2 Years Too Late

by Carmen Balber
Vail Drilling - an oil company and one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's largest donors - had to pay a $6,500 fine this week for failing to disclose a $500,000 contribution it made to the governator's campaign fund. The fine was announced by the state ethics board, responsible for overseeing the campaign laws, because the company was late reporting its massive contribution. The violation was especially troubling due to the large sum of money involved, and the fact that the donation was made just days before the special election.

Way to go Fair Political Practices Commission, for holding those scofflaws accountable? Not exactly. The contribution was for Schwarzenegger's last special election. That's right, the violation occurred in 2005. We sent an official complaint to the FPPC when we discovered it in 2006. May of 2009 is three and a half years too late to act on this kind of time-sensitive campaign violation. And they had to pay only $6,500? For obscuring the source of half a million dollars that could have had a serious impact so close to the election?

There's a new regime at the FPPC, and they've gotten their hands a lot dirtier (in a good way) rooting around in the muck of California campaigns. But this "enforcement action" goes to show they have a lot more to do before wilful disregard of our political corruption laws is considered any worse than just the cost of doing business.

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