Port Hueneme police committee agrees to pay penalty for elections mailer


Published:
Source: Wendy Leung

The political fundraising arm of the Port Hueneme police union has agreed to pay a $2,500 fine for failing to disclose sender information in an elections mailer, according to the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

In November 2014, the Port Hueneme Police Officers' Association Political Action Committee sent out more than 8,000 mailers in support of Oxnard Harbor District candidate Mary Anne Rooney and Port Hueneme City Council candidates Jim Hensley and Tom Figg. The mailer had no name or address identifying the sender, which are required under the Political Reform Act.

The five-member Fair Political Practices Commission will consider the fine during its Dec. 17 meeting in Sacramento.

Jay Wierenga, spokesman for the FPPC, said most individuals or groups found to have violated the Political Reform Act choose to settle with the commission and pay a fine rather than go through an administrative hearing process.

Rocque Lopez, president of the Port Hueneme Police Officers' Association, said it was the first time the union had done a political mailer. Lopez said that while the mailer had photos of law enforcement officers, it did not have the proper name and address.

"We did it with the best of intentions, but we made a mistake and we're paying for that mistake," Lopez said. "It was a live-and-learn situation. There was no malicious intent."

Lopez said the committee has taken measures to ensure it won't happen again.

The police union committee spent $3,496 on the design, printing and postage of the mailers. The three candidates endorsed ended up winning the election.

Councilman Hensley said he did not know the mailer was missing a name and address. He remembered it being a "well done" mailer.

"It was an asset to my election," Hensley said. "I was grateful they did it."

Hensley said $2,500 seemed expensive for a fine and thinks $500 and a warning would be more appropriate.

The violation has a maximum penalty of $5,000.

In determining the $2,500 fine set for the committee, the FPPC considered whether the violation was deliberate, whether there was a pattern of violations and other factors.

The police union had no prior history with the FPPC enforcement division. The mailer came to the attention of the FPPC after an anonymous complaint.