The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) announced during the weekend, they are launching an investigation into a financial income disclosure made by talk show host and gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder.
California Democratic Party (CADEM) Chairman Rusty Hicks initially filed a complaint against Elder last week over not properly disclosing all personal and business financial income. Specifically they said that Laurence A. Elder & Associates Inc. had several improper business disclosures, including how much it was worth, how much he owned of it, and where some donations for Elder originated from. In a list of questions by CADEM, the party even tried to tie Elder in with the Tobacco industry, for-profit colleges, and receiving money from the Trump campaign.
“Elder failed to properly disclose his interest in and income from his business Laurence A. Elder and Associates,” said CADEM Chairman Hicks last week. “Mr. Elder withheld important information from the public in connection with the recall election, he should be required to pay administrative penalties commensurate with his failure to properly and timely disclose required information. If Elder is found to have knowingly and willfully violated these requirements, he is subject to misdemeanor criminal penalties.”
Elder immediately corrected and refiled his Statement of Economic Interests the very next day. Elder confirmed that he was sole owner of the company in question, that it was worth between $100,000 and $1 million, and that he received campaign funds from many groups, including the non-profit group Turning Point USA.
“We made a simple mistake and we fixed it as soon as possible. These investigations are very common in campaign world,” explained Elder campaign Spokeswoman Ying Ma last week.
However, despite the changes made by the Elder campaign, the FPPC formally launched their investigation during the weekend. Should Elder be found guilty, he will pay up to $5,000 per violation.
In a letter to CADEM on Monday, the FPPC said that while they were now looking into Elder’s financial disclosure, they still had not made any decisions on the matter.
“You will next receive notification from us upon final disposition of the case,” explained the FPPC. “However, please be advised that at this time we have not made any determination about the validity of the allegation(s) your client has made or about the culpability, if any, of the person(s) identified in the complaint.”
Political experts noted that while Elder should indeed pay for any violations found, the entire probe is the Democratic Party trying to find anything on Elder in the run-up to the recall.
A Democratic ploy against Elder only weeks before the election
“Right now the Democrats are doing what any worried party is doing and digging up dirt on the leading guy,” explained former West Coast pollster Daniel Fitzroy to the Globe on Monday. “They already have Elder speaking poorly about women in the past, as well as that story about his former fiancée claiming Elder had pointed a gun at her. But neither story really had long-term sticking power which they hoped.”
“The statement on women happened several decades ago and was taken out of context, with the gun story being very ‘he said, she said.’ Elder has denied it. So they went the financial route too, pouncing on a few mistakes he made on financial disclosure things. Look at what they were charging – adding in Tobacco companies and Donald Trump and other things that would easily turn people away and reinforce their notion that this is a Republican-led pull for Governor.”
“But then look at what he cleared up. Nothing of the sort. The closest thing is that he took money from some conservative groups, which duh, of course he would, just like any Democrat takes money from a liberal group.
“So now they are emphasizing that this is a government probe in a last ditch chance to try and spin it their way. But look at how the Elder campaign has responded. They’ve pretty much said “We made mistakes but we quickly fixed them.” It’s been completely disarming to the Democrats, who had really been expecting a fight.”
“They’re been trying everything, but Elder’s campaign has been very casual and forthright about everything. It’s really hard to hurt a candidate when you’re saying ‘Look a huge mistake!’ and they respond by saying ‘Oh, it really isn’t a mistake,’ or ‘You’re right! Let me fix it!’ rather than fighting them.”
“And why bring this up now? It’s more than obvious that they are scared of Elder and the Republicans winning. They’re trying everything they can find because nothing is sticking to him like, say, the French Laundry incident stuck with Newsom.”
The FPPC probe is expected to be resolved soon.
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