This week, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) received a complaint alleging that Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) used his Assembly campaign committee to go around candidate donation limits.
In the complaint filed by former Assemblyman Paul Fong, Assemblyman Chu is said to have kept his Assembly Campaign committee open despite not running for Assembly in 2020. As Chu is instead running for a Santa Clara County Supervisor position this year, differing campaign finance laws between the two positions may have been broken. Specifically, the complaint said that since Assembly candidates can have donations be as high as $4,700 per person and Supervisor candidates can only have $1,000 per person, keeping the Assembly campaign fund open instead of a Supervisor fund could unfairly raise more money than other candidates.
The filing also alleges that Chu did not report all gifts, travel, and meals paid for by his campaign committee. Some of the travel expenses are said to not have any information on them, including expenses for members of Chu’s family. Previous FPPC audits of Chu’s campaign fund have found discrepancies, such as gifts exceeding the legal value for public officials, but Chu has been cleared each time after openly complying with the FPPC.
“On behalf of our neighbors in District 3 and the people of Santa Clara County,” said Fong in his complaint. “We demand that the FPPC take immediate action to rectify this issue by holding Assemblymember Kansen Chu accountable for his blatant disregard for ethics and integrity in the political process.”
Assemblyman Chu is currently in a tight race for the Santa Clara County District 3 Supervisor seat against former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee. Chu had narrowly defeated Lee in the primary earlier this year by only around 2,000 votes. Chu has said that the FPPC filing by Fong stemmed from Fong’s mentor-like relationship with Lee, and that the allegation is simply a “smear tactic” against him.
“I’ve got nothing to hide,” said Assemblyman Chu earlier this week. “The FPPC is looking into it, but I’ve got nothing to hide. They’re just throwing [expletive] at the fans and hoping something will stick.”
However, others in the district contend that due diligence must occur.
“Whether there is something there or not, the people have the right to know,” explained San Jose lawyer David Casey. “If there is something to these allegations, then it’s on Chu and it may hurt him in the election. But if he comes out clean, the other side could take a hit for trumping up allegations. They wouldn’t have risked it if there was at least a kernel of truth there, but right now, we need to let the FPPC decide.”
The FPPC is currently reviewing the allegation and may open an investigation if there is enough evidence to warrant such an action.
The election for County Supervisor will be held on November 3rd.
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