UPDATE: The Fair Political Practices Commission has closed its investigation into Palo Alto City Councilman Adrian Fine and gave him a warning. Read more here.
An anonymous complaint against Palo Alto City Councilman Adrian Fine has triggered an investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission into whether his campaign had failed to properly disclose his FPPC number on the envelope of a mailer he had sent out while campaigning last fall.
The commission, which enforces the Political Reform Act, is now investigating all three top vote-getters in last November's heated council election: Vice Mayor Liz Kniss, Greg Tanaka and Adrian Fine. But unlike with Kniss and Tanaka, Fine's alleged violation appears to be largely clerical in nature.
Unlike the six-page letter that the agency had sent to Kniss, the one to Fine is only two paragraphs long and cites one alleged violation: "unidentified advertisement or mailer." Specifically, he is alleged to have sent out the mailers without the FPPC ID on the envelope.
The mailer in question is the Oct. 12 letter Fine had sent to residents introducing himself and asking residents for support. The letter also includes a list of elected officials who had endorsed him and, at the bottom, a disclosure that it was paid by his campaign, as well as the FPPC identification number.
When asked about the investigation, Fine emphasized that the allegation in the anonymous complaint is an "administrative matter," not a campaign-finance issue. He characterized the complaint as people "sniping and mudslinging" after the election.
"I think there's absolutely a concerted effort to tar and feather," Fine told the Weekly. "It's clear they are targeting the newly elected council members."
Fine told the Weekly that all of his campaign's mailers were clearly identified as having been paid for by his campaign and all included the FPPC number. He said his team has responded to the FPPC to explain in detail all the steps his campaign has taken and to make sure that every regulation was followed.
Much like with its letters to Kniss and Tanaka, the FPPC's Enforcement Division informed Fine in its March 10 letter that it has initiated an investigation whether, based on the information it has received, he has "violated the Political Reform Act's campaign requirements and prohibitions."
"At this time, we have not made any determinations," the letter states. "We are simply providing you with this information and will be contacting you again to regarding this matter."