The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has finally responded to a complaint made against an Orange County politician who misappropriated taxpayer dollars for personal gain.
Facing a difficult re-election in 2016, Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do sent out between 15 and 19 separate mass mailings to voters in his district at the taxpayer’s expense. The mailings related to everything from announcing public events, identifying various public resources, to explaining how to file taxes. In all cases, Supervisor Do’s name was prominently displayed. In total, Supervisor Do mailed out 1,200,000 pieces of mail to voters’ homes at a public expense of $300,000, many arriving shortly before the election in November.
Alleging a violation of the law, both primary opponent Phat Bui and long-time Orange County political watchdog Shirley Grindle filed complaints with the FPPC. In addition, the California Legislature found Supervisor Do’s conduct to be so egregious that they changed the law to prohibit any mailers by elected officials within 60 days of an election.
It was then a great surprise that the FPPC, in their response to the complaints, issued only a warning to Supervisor Do, despite finding a violation of the law. In their letter explaining why they decided to issue a warning rather than a fine, they reasoned that Supervisor Do’s excessive mailers led to the change in the law that now prohibits such mailers, and in effect, he gets credit for that.
As a side show to this example of shameless unprincipled conduct and fiscal irresponsibility, County Counsel Leon Page has made efforts to provide legal cover for Supervisor Do, and for other Supervisors engaging in these practices, effectively sanctioning these antics. It is not the job of the County Counsel to provide legal support for Supervisors’ political activities, and yet it is a practice that Mr. Page appears to have comfortably slipped into.
The net result is that citizens of Orange County funded the re-election of an incumbent official, and he’s going to get away with it. As always, the taxpayers will foot the bill.