After an initial query, the Fair Political Practices Commission has said it will not conduct further investigations into a claim that state Senate candidate Annie Oliva has collaborated with an independent spending committee.
The claim has been dismissed, said Jay Wierenga, spokesperson for the commission.
The division "will not pursue this matter further" after receiving responses to the allegations from Oliva and her consultants, said Galena West, chief of the commission's enforcement division, in a letter.
Oliva is a Millbrae City Councilwoman and a realtor in San Bruno running to represent California's District 13 in the state Senate.
Dan Stegink of Pacifica, a founding member of the Peninsula Progressives and one-time candidate for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, filed the complaint, alleging that Oliva had collaborated with an independent expenditure committee supporting her run to represent California's District 13, which, if true, would represent a violation of campaign rules set forth in the Political Reform Act.
Candidates are not permitted to coordinate with independent spending groups; otherwise those amounts spent are subject to the campaign contribution limits, which are $4,700 for an individual or $9,300 for small contributor committees, as laid out in rules from the commission.
Stegink said he was suspicious that Oliva was coordinating with representatives from the San Mateo County Association of Realtors, where she was previously on the board of directors, because he claimed some photos used by the committee were not on Oliva's website and because he believed Oliva is in frequent contact with leaders of the San Mateo County Association of Realtors.
To date, Oliva has received $576,120 from independent spending groups. The group that's spent the most money to support her, by far, is the independent spending committee associated with the California Association of Realtors, which has contributed $560,943 in support of her election. That amount surpasses even the amount raised by her own campaign committee, which has raised $438,613 from 743 donors.
For Oliva's part, she denied the allegations, calling the complaint "baseless, false and politically motivated."
At a Feb. 5 forum of the candidates hosted by this news organization, Oliva was asked about the potential influence of the Realtors' group on her as a legislator, given the financial campaign support.
"I had no idea they would be doing this. It's an independent expenditure," she said. "I've been very involved in San Mateo County Association of Realtors and CAR. I'm humbled and very honored they noticed my work. ... I'm grateful for their support.
"That one group is doing whatever they're doing, and I have no clue what's next if anything is next," she said.
Oliva is one of seven candidates for Senate District 13, which covers the territory from South San Francisco to Sunnyvale and on the coast from north of Pacifica to Año Nuevo State Park and includes about 1 million residents. Democrats Josh Becker, Michael Brownrigg, Sally Lieber, Shelly Masur, Republican Alex Glew and Libertarian John Webster are also competing in the March 3 primary election.
Read our profiles of each candidate, alongside videotaped interviews with six of the seven contenders, on our Atavist page.