State watchdog fines San Jose Water executive, Cupertino political committee for campaign violations
The state Capitol in Sacramento. Image by glenngould is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

    The state’s political watchdog has fined a Silicon Valley political action committee and San Jose Water Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Walters $5,000 for failing to file campaign finance reports on time.

    The Cupertino Chamber PAC and Walters, who was the committee’s treasurer at the time, failed to timely file two expenditure reports disclosing a total of $11,021 and two campaign contribution reports disclosing a total of $12,474 during the November 2016 election cycle, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission. The reports were related to three mailers the PAC sent out less than two weeks before the election.

    Walters was not immediately available for comment.

    “Failure to timely file 24-hour contribution and independent expenditure reports can cause serious harm, as it deprives the public of timely disclosure of the committee’s actions before an election,” the FPPC statement said.

    The committee reported the mailers as a campaign contribution just a day before the election — several days past the deadline to report them — and sent them “without having the cash on hand to pay for them,” according to the FPPC.

    After the Cupertino Chamber PAC sent the mailers, Sand Hill Property Company, the developer that owned the then-dormant Vallco Shopping Mall, contributed $25,000 to the committee to help pay for them. But Sand Hill Property’s contribution came too late to change the disclosures on the mailers.

    The mailers were part of a campaign related to two proposals focused on development around Vallco. Sand Hill’s contribution amounted to 94% of the funds the Cupertino committee received in 2016.

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    Measure C, which the campaign opposed, would have imposed a 45-foot height limit for buildings near the dormant shopping center and limited nearby development to retail, housing, dining and entertainment. Measure D, which the campaign supported, would have required Cupertino to adopt the Vallco Town Center Specific Plan, which would have included senior housing, office and commercial space, green space, a 30-acre green roof, $30 million for transportation upgrades and $40 million for schools as part of a redevelopment of the site.

    Both measures ended up failing — Measure C by 20 percentage points and Measure D by about 8.

    Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @lloydalaban.

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