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DA receives letter from FPPC on campaign violations

By From page A9 | April 18, 2014

The District Attorney of El Dorado County received a letter from the Fair Political Practices Commission regarding violations of the Political Reform Act’s campaign disclosure provisions.

“Specifically, the FPPC found that you violated the Act’s campaign disclosure provisions with regard to loans made to your committee and that you also violated the Act’s ‘one bank account per campaign’ requirement as evidenced when you reimbursed yourself for $4,100 for campaign expenses you paid with personal funds without first depositing that amount in the campaign bank account,” the letter from FPPC Chief Enforcement Officer Gary Winuk to District Attorney Vern Pierson read.

A second complaint was filed against Pierson alleging his wife is a physical therapist and Pierson is the chief technology officer of the county, but that these are not divulged on campaign finance forms. In a footnote in the FPPC letter, Winuk acknowledges a second complaint that was dismissed due to lack of evidence. Pierson said his wife had never been a physical therapist.

Winuk also noted that Pierson had no previous record of violations, and as such, would only have a warning issued; subsequent violations could result in a $5,000 fine per violation.

“I appreciate the FPPC having a very difficult job enforcing laws regarding political campaigns,” Pierson told the Mountain Democrat. “Now, I have an experienced campaign treasurer” handling campaign finances, he said.

Frank Stephens, who filed the complaints with the FPPC and provided copies of both complaints, said that Pierson was doing the same thing he is currently accusing Supervisor Ray Nutting of doing — paperwork violations. When Stephens learned of the accusations against Nutting, he said he was “very much offended” and pulled records on Pierson’s campaign to see if he had made any violations. “Guess what? He did,” Stephens said.

Pierson, Stephens said, is “unfit to be the district attorney” due to how he has unethically handled the Nutting case. Stephens worked on and monetarily supported Pierson’s original campaign to become DA, something which he said he was “unhappy” he did in retrospect.

“With regards to the letters, it’s pretty pathetic,” said political watchdog Chuck Holland. “The Three Stooges” — what Holland refers to as Ray Nutting, Cris Alarcon and Dan Dellinger — “got Frank Stephens to perjure himself to the FPPC,” referring to the part that was dismissed due to lack of evidence. “It’s a continuation of a witch hunt, and Frank Stephens is tied to them.”

He noted that this was also the first time since Pierson had competition, in the form of bankruptcy lawyer Judson Henry. Henry dropped out of the race after about two weeks, but will still be on the ballot. “It became clear others had attempted to use him to create a distraction,” Pierson said at the time Henry dropped out.

Ray Nutting told the Mountain Democrat that he was not involved with any political campaign, including the DA’s campaign.

Cole Mayer

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