By KAREN VELIE
California’s political watchdog sent a warning to Grover Beach Councilman Jeff Lee on Oct. 13, because he failed to end his 2016 campaign with a zero balance and then transferred more than $3,000 to another account.
The Fair Political Practices Commission found that Lee’s campaign failed to report a transfer of $3,398.29 from a 2016 committee to a 2020 committee. In addition, the bank balance disclosed was insufficient to cover expenses.
California law requires candidates to report transfers of funds and to have no remaining money in an account before canceling a committee.
The FPPC verified the violations, which were first reported by local government watchdog Kevin Rice, according to case documents. The agency, which sent a warning letter, said they decided not to levy a fine because it was Lee’s first violation and he had taken action to correct the issues.
“However, the Enforcement Division has decided to close this case with this warning letter rather than a fine because you filed amendments to the erroneous campaign statements immediately after contact and you have no prior history of violating the Act,” the FPPC says in the warning letter.
In his complaint, Rice accuses Lee of foul play in his bid for a four-year seat on the council.
“Mr. Lee’s terminating Form 460 indicates serious foul play,” Rice wrote. “An expenditure of $3,398.29 on page 8 is not included in the Schedule E Summary on page 7, nor is it carried forward to the Summary Page (page 3, lines 6, 8, 11 and 15.)”
In his amendments, Lee corrected numerous math errors and balanced his accounting record.
“I appreciate Mr. Lee’s amendments that bring light to the fact that he had made some large math errors, and I now feel he was fully forthcoming in his disclosures and this can all be attributed to math errors,” Rice said. “It is important that candidates reconcile their statements with their bank balances, which will help avoid the appearance of malfeasance.”