Mission of the Enforcement Division
The mission of the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission is to fairly, effectively, and efficiently enforce the provisions of the Political Reform Act.
Types of Enforcement Actions
A violation of the Act can be pursued in three ways:
1) Administrative proceedings by the Enforcement Division;
2) Criminal prosecution by a local district attorney or the state attorney general; or
3) Civil action by the public, certain government agencies or the Enforcement Division.
The vast majority of cases are handled through the administrative enforcement process.
The Enforcement Division analyzes and processes over 1,500 complaints and referrals per year about potential violations of the Act. Complaints and referrals are received from citizens, other government agencies, and the media. The Enforcement Division also investigates on its own initiative. The division also operates a campaign audit program of both mandatory and discretionary audits. A matter will be fully investigated if there is sufficient information to believe that a violation of the Act has occurred.
At the February 2018 Commission Hearing, the Enforcement Division gave a presentation on the enforcement process.
Administrative Enforcement Case Resolution
A complaint can be resolved in several ways depending on the strength of the evidence, the particular facts, and the amount of public harm involved. If there is insufficient evidence to prosecute and no further information would be helpful or informative or the allegation has been disproven, a case may be closed with a no action closure letter. If there is insufficient evidence to prosecute but the person complained about appears to need information about the Act to ensure future compliance, a case may be closed with an advisory letter. If the seriousness of the offense and public harm are low, a warning letter may be issued identifying a violation of the Act but concluding a monetary fine is not warranted. Finally, if the case merits pursuit of a fine, the Enforcement Division will prosecute the violators and may seek penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, which must be approved by the Commissioners. There is an ethical wall between the Enforcement Division and the Commissioners for all open Enforcement complaints and cases.
To find a resolution for a prior case:
- Case Closure Letters - No action closure, advisory and warning letters
- Enforcement Case Results - Stipulations, default judgements, and decisions from Administrative Law Judges
- Enforcement Case Decision Citations - Summaries of citation resolutions 1975 - 2023
- Enforcement Case Decisions - Summaries of case resolutions 1975 - 2023
Enforceable Violations of the Act
The FPPC may only act on complaints within its jurisdiction, meaning violations of the Act. The following is a list of violations that the FPPC regularly enforces:
- Financial conflicts of interest
- Laundered campaign contributions
- Over-the-limit gifts and contributions
- Improper use of campaign funds, including personal use
- Campaign mass mailings at public expense
- False, inadequate, or inaccurate reporting on statements of economic interests, campaign statements and reports
- Non-filing or late filing of such statements and reports
- Anonymous or cash contributions of $100 or more
How to File a Complaint
Anyone who suspects a violation of the Act should file a sworn complaint with the Enforcement Division.