News

FPPC declines to investigate council candidates mentioned in citizen's election flyer

Flyer's creator says he acted alone, calls California Apartment Association's complaint 'frivolous'

Campaign signs at the corner of Church Street and Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View on Sept. 9, 2020. Photo by Magali GAuthier.

State officials declined to investigate a complaint by the California Apartment Association alleging that four Mountain View City Council candidates may have worked on an election flyer in violation of campaign finance laws.

In a brief letter on Oct. 7, officials from the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) said the complaint filed by Joshua Howard, executive vice president of government affairs for the apartment association, did not have enough evidence of wrongdoing to warrant further investigation. No enforcement action will be taken in the matter, according to Galena West, chief of the FPPC's enforcement division.

The flyer in question, sent to apartment complexes in late September, argued that a slate of candidates for the Mountain View City Council -- Lenny Siegel, John Lashlee, Alex Nunez and Sally Lieber -- may be supportive of renter-friendly policies. It also recommended that the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley may be a valuable resource for those facing eviction during COVID-19.

Howard, in a Sept. 29 complaint to the FPPC, alleged that the letter may be evidence that the council candidates were working with one another to distribute election materials without complying with state election law. He said the flyer fails to state that it was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate. The complaint goes on to suggest that the Law Foundation may be involved as well, using the flyer as a solicitation for services it provides.

Howard said in a statement that he respects the FPPC's decision, but maintains that it was murky whether the flyer complied with state campaign finance rules.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Mountain View Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

"At best, it was unclear if the flyer and its delivery violated any campaign finance rules," he said. "The FPPC’s review was important to determining if any rules were violated."

Mountain View resident Gary Wesley, who created the flyers, maintains that he acted alone, and that he has a right to express his views under the First Amendment. He spent less than $100 on the effort, well below the reporting threshold. He said the FPPC is discarding the complaint because it was frivolous, and that no law had been violated.

Lashlee, one of the candidates targeted in the complaint, said in an email Wednesday that the complaint speaks poorly of Howard's intentions, and that he believes it was an attempt by corporate landlords to target candidates favorable to renters in the city.

All four of the candidates mentioned in the flyer say they believe the apartment association's complaint amounted to a political tactic in order to vilify vocal supporters of rent control. The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley did not respond to requests for comment.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

FPPC declines to investigate council candidates mentioned in citizen's election flyer

Flyer's creator says he acted alone, calls California Apartment Association's complaint 'frivolous'

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 1:35 pm

State officials declined to investigate a complaint by the California Apartment Association alleging that four Mountain View City Council candidates may have worked on an election flyer in violation of campaign finance laws.

In a brief letter on Oct. 7, officials from the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) said the complaint filed by Joshua Howard, executive vice president of government affairs for the apartment association, did not have enough evidence of wrongdoing to warrant further investigation. No enforcement action will be taken in the matter, according to Galena West, chief of the FPPC's enforcement division.

The flyer in question, sent to apartment complexes in late September, argued that a slate of candidates for the Mountain View City Council -- Lenny Siegel, John Lashlee, Alex Nunez and Sally Lieber -- may be supportive of renter-friendly policies. It also recommended that the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley may be a valuable resource for those facing eviction during COVID-19.

Howard, in a Sept. 29 complaint to the FPPC, alleged that the letter may be evidence that the council candidates were working with one another to distribute election materials without complying with state election law. He said the flyer fails to state that it was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate. The complaint goes on to suggest that the Law Foundation may be involved as well, using the flyer as a solicitation for services it provides.

Howard said in a statement that he respects the FPPC's decision, but maintains that it was murky whether the flyer complied with state campaign finance rules.

"At best, it was unclear if the flyer and its delivery violated any campaign finance rules," he said. "The FPPC’s review was important to determining if any rules were violated."

Mountain View resident Gary Wesley, who created the flyers, maintains that he acted alone, and that he has a right to express his views under the First Amendment. He spent less than $100 on the effort, well below the reporting threshold. He said the FPPC is discarding the complaint because it was frivolous, and that no law had been violated.

Lashlee, one of the candidates targeted in the complaint, said in an email Wednesday that the complaint speaks poorly of Howard's intentions, and that he believes it was an attempt by corporate landlords to target candidates favorable to renters in the city.

All four of the candidates mentioned in the flyer say they believe the apartment association's complaint amounted to a political tactic in order to vilify vocal supporters of rent control. The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley did not respond to requests for comment.

Comments

Bruce Karney
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 8, 2020 at 2:39 pm
Bruce Karney, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2020 at 2:39 pm
22 people like this

I also "believe it was an attempt by corporate landlords to target candidates favorable to renters in the city."


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 8, 2020 at 3:13 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2020 at 3:13 pm
16 people like this

It took less than a week for the FPPC to demonstrate this was a frivolous complaint.

By the way, the CAA is simply demonstrating more and more failures to live up to its promises to it's members.

Granted Joshua Howard is paid to do what he did. But it appears it was a frivolous complaint let alone unfounded.

I can imagine he is paid a 6 figure salary by the CAA, but it doesn't look like he is getting any productivity other than maybe being a public nuisance. What credibility does Joshua Howard have in this city at this time? And look at this actions impact on his state-wide reputation?

Why do landlords in Mountain View want to be members of this group?


Yonatan
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 8, 2020 at 8:25 pm
Yonatan, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2020 at 8:25 pm
14 people like this

Never in my life did I think I would agree with Gary Wesley, but here we are.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.