State political watchdog fines Alum Rock school board member

The Fair Political Practices Commission has slapped a $7,000 fine on Alum Rock Union Elementary School District Board Member Dolores Marquez for alleged mishandling of surplus campaign funds and other charges dating back to 2014 and 2016.

In a stipulation order drafted by the commission and unanimously approved by the commissioners last week, Marquez is being charged with improper use of surplus funds, acceptance of a cashier’s check and failure to fully adhere to campaign disclosure requirements.

Her committee treasurer Anjelica Frausto and the 2014 and 2016 campaign committees are also named in the stipulation which outlines the three counts of illegal actions taken over the course of the board member’s campaigns.

In her 2014 run for the Santa Clara County Board of Education, Marquez reportedly had $8,299 left over in her campaign after expenses. According to state law, remaining campaign money is considered surplus 90 days after a “triggering” event which, in Marquez’s case, began in the roughly three months that followed her loss for the seat.

At this point any left over funds are required to be reported to the FPPC and may only be used to retire outstanding campaign debts and certain expenses, as a repayment to contributors or as a donation toward a charitable cause.

According to the stipulation, a balance of roughly $5,000 was transferred to a 2016 committee after Marquez used some of the funds to cover bank fees, and an annual fee to the Secretary of State.

“Contributions to a California state or local election is a prohibited use of surplus funds,” the stipulation says.

As an aggravating factor, Marquez reportedly “failed to report about $1,128 in expenditures and did not report the transfer of surplus funds on the termination campaign statement,” according to the stipulation document.

Marquez could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

In 2016, Marquez violated FPPC regulations when she deposited a $5,000 cashier’s check during her campaign for re-election to the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District Board. Cashier’s checks totaling more than $100 are not permitted, according to government code. Marquez claimed she provided the money in the form of a loan but was not able to produce any documentation to prove it.

In the third count, Marquez and Frausto allegedly failed to report nearly $2,000 in contributions and more than $2,000 in expenditures on campaign disclosure statements.

The stipulation notes that the actions were a result of negligence and not evidence of “deliberate omission or attempts to conceal” but added that Marquez has been penalized by the commission before for “untimely filing” of two campaign statements in 2015.

Contact Carina Woudenberg at carinaw86@gmail.com or follow at @carinaew on Twitter.

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