On Wednesday, San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco was fined $3,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for failing to give information on 76 donors and neglecting a deadline on filing campaign donor forms.
According to the report, the ‘Re-Elect Magdalena Carrasco For City Council 2018’ campaign, run by Carrasco and campaign treasurer Huascar Castro, neglected to to tell the state about 76 donors, whose donations totaled $24,100. This, as well as filing the donor report two months late, violated California’s Political Reform Act.
Carrasco had previously broken campaign donor law in 2018 when the city of San Jose fined her $2,000 for not listing donor occupations on donor forms during the 2018 June primary election. This was exacerbated by missing a city hearing on the violation with her campaign manager Omar Torres.
The pattern of campaign donation violations was especially noted in the final report.
“The failure to report contributor information violation appears to be negligent as Carrasco is sophisticated with the Act and had previously campaigned, on at least two other occasions for elected positions,” said FPPC Chief of Enforcement Galena West in her decision. “The Commission considers penalties in prior cases with the same or similar violations and comparable facts.”
While the fine was not considered to be high, many San Jose residents expressed distrust after hearing that these were not her first campaign violations.
“The fines are relatively small,” explained Santa Clara County based political consultant Jackson Kenney. “But look at what Carrasco and her campaign did. They didn’t list donors. The only thing known was how much they gave. Then they didn’t bother to file a 24-hour report. Fining so low is turning into a dangerous precedent. Voters have a right to know where the money is coming from, and she just didn’t tell them.”
“And it wasn’t an oversight. She had done this before, and while maybe a few names would have been understandable, this was 76. It’s not Mayor Daley Chicago numbers, but it’s still pretty high. That’s a lot of single or couple donors not being named in a city that’s filled with a lot of wealthy donors. And they haven’t said a word about this.”
“Carrasco and her future campaigns are going to have to be airtight from now on,” added Kenney. “It’s not fair to accuse of any wrong-doing. But, again, this has happened more than once now, so something needs to change. And a small $3,000 fine may not be enough to spark that, or encourage other campaigns to be more diligent.”
Carrasco, who recently lost a County Supervisor’s race earlier this month, could not be reached for comment.
Note: The FPPC clarified that the fine is technically a pending settlement that has been agreed to and awaits Commission vote, with all penalties going to the State General Fund.