Complaint alleges Newport council candidate violated campaign donation rule


A Balboa Island resident and supporter of the City Council’s “Team Newport” slate filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission last week against council candidate Jeff Herdman, alleging that he failed to submit a mandatory form before soliciting and accepting campaign donations.

A spokesman for the commission confirmed Tuesday that the agency received the complaint from Bob McCaffrey.

In his complaint against Herdman, McCaffrey points to an Oct. 27 email from Little Balboa Island resident Ken Yonkers to neighbors in which he appears to be helping to get the word out about Herdman’s campaign and gives direction on how to donate funds.

“Jeff communicated with me that he has met with his campaign manager and his campaign is off and running,” Yonkers wrote in the email. “He is in need of some funds now.”

McCaffrey alleges in his complaint that Herdman violated the state Political Reform Act by failing to file a candidate intention statement, also known as Form 501, before soliciting campaign donations. Herdman filed the form with the Newport Beach city clerk’s office on Nov. 5, according to city records.

The form states that candidates are required to file the form “prior to solicitation or receipt of any contribution, or expenditure of any personal funds used for the election.”

Herdman did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Herdman, 69, a longtime Balboa Island resident, has been critical of council members Scott Peotter, Kevin Muldoon and Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, all of whom, along with Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon, were elected last year on a slate known as Team Newport.

In April, Herdman sent a letter to the FPPC alleging that a campaign contribution Peotter received last year violated the Political Reform Act and Newport Beach’s municipal code. Peotter denied any wrongdoing.

Herdman also has suggested in published letters to the Daily Pilot that the city should request that the FPPC conduct a full audit of all the candidates in last year’s election to examine their “independent expenditures, slate mail committees and other expenditures spent to influence the election.”

McCaffrey contributed funds to each of the Team Newport candidates in the 2014 election. McCaffrey alleged in his complaint that Herdman’s letters were a way to “publicize his long-rumored City Council campaign for November 2016.”

If the commission finds that a candidate violated the Political Reform Act, the candidate could face fines of up to $10 per day for each day the Form 501 was late, according to FPPC Communications Director Jay Wierenga.

“One of the key goals of the act is disclosure, so getting people to file is always a good thing,” Wierenga said. “It allows the public to see the information, the contributions and expenditures, to give them the information they need and are entitled to, especially before any election.”

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