By Alberto Garcia
A Candidate Intention Statement form for Todd Gloria’s re-election to the Assembly was hand delivered to the Secretary of State’s office the morning after La Prensa San Diego posed questions to Gloria’s campaign manager about the missing form.
Todd Gloria, a candidate for San Diego Mayor, currently serves in the California Assembly representing parts of the City of San Diego, including Downtown, North Park, Balboa Park, and all the beach communities.
A story posted Monday on La Prensa San Diego’s website raised the issue that Gloria may have violated state law by failing to file his intention to run for re-election to the State Assembly before raising over $300,000 in a campaign committee, while at the same time running and raising money for his campaign for San Diego Mayor.
State law requires that a “candidate for state or local office must file this form for each election, including reelection to the same office” and “before you solicit or receive any contributions or before you make expenditures” from that campaign.
According to the California Secretary of State’s office, there was no Form 501 on file for Todd Gloria for Assembly 2020 as of the end of day on August 12.
Nick Serrano, Gloria’s Communications Director in the Assembly who currently serves as campaign manager, communicated with La Prensa on Monday, August 12, and took questions for Gloria about the missing form. No response to those questions have been received.
Instead, a Form 501 was signed by Gloria on Tuesday, August 13, and delivered to the Secretary of State in the morning.
The form announces Gloria’s intention to seek re-election as a candidate for the Assembly’s 78th District. The form is dated August, 13, 2019, and signed under penalty of perjury that it is true and correct.
Regina Geremia, from the California Secretary of State’s Political Reform Division, confirmed she received the form in her office in Sacramento in the morning on August 13th.
No announcement was made as to the status of Gloria’s campaign for Mayor.
The Todd Gloria for Assembly 2020 campaign committee was created in March of this year when Gloria transferred $293,078.05 that remained in his 2018 Assembly campaign committee after the November 2018 election.
Under state law, Gloria had to empty and close out the 2018 committee by the end of March or the money would become “surplus” and subject to strict limits to donate the money to charity. He instead transferred the money to the new Assembly 2020 committee and closed out the Assembly 2018 committee on March 19, allowing him to raise money at the state’s $4,700 contribution limit instead of the San Diego Mayor limits of $1,150.
The June 30th report for the Assembly 2020 campaign committee shows campaign contributions of $25,246, plus the nearly $300,000 he transferred from the 2018 committee. Those contributions have all come from special interests, including $5,150 from Native American tribes, $3,000 from new car dealers, $1,500 from an Orange County apartment association, $4,800 from lobbying groups for chiropractors, veterinarians, and firefighters, and one $2,500 contribution from State Treasurer Fiona Ma. No individual contributions were reported. The committee ended the June period with $275,122.24 cash on hand.
Since March, Gloria has spent $44,246.32 from that committee, including donating to other campaigns and organizations. Gloria donated $5,000 to the San Diego Democratic Party; a maximum $4,700 contribution to Councilman Chris Ward’s 2020 Assembly campaign to replace Gloria; $1,500 to the Climate Action Campaign; $1,000 to Kamala Harris’ Presidential campaign; and $1,037.50 to reimburse Lorena Gonzalez’ Assembly campaign for delegate breakfast at the recent Democratic Party convention, among other expenditures.
Campaign for Mayor
Gloria filed a 501 form with the City of San Diego on December 20, 2018 declaring his candidacy for Mayor before raising money for that campaign.
By the end of June, Gloria reported having raised a total of $656,108.28 for the 2020 San Diego Mayor’s campaign since January 1st, and ended the period with $474,735.49 cash on hand.
At the time the 2020 Assembly committee was created, Gloria was already a declared candidate for San Diego Mayor and was raising money for a separate committee, Todd Gloria for Mayor 2020.
Councilman Chris Ward, running to replace Gloria in the Assembly, filed his own 501 form for the Assembly before beginning to raise money in January. Ward’s 2020 Assembly committee reported having raised a total of $284,393.27 through June 30th. Ward received a contribution of $4,700 from Gloria’s 2020 Assembly committee.
Gloria donated $4,700 to Ward’s campaign on March 27, just eight days after Gloria created his 2020 Assembly committee.
La Prensa San Diego asked Chris Ward if he believed Gloria was also running for the Assembly when he himself filed to run back in January, whether he would keep the contribution received from Gloria’s Assembly 2020 campaign committee, and whether he would continue to run even after Gloria’s declaration as a candidate today.
“I am running strong for the AD78 race in 2020, I appreciate Todd’s endorsement and support, and all funds to my campaign were lawfully received and fully reported,” Ward wrote in response to several questions.
State Law Requirements
The California Political Reform Act, which requires the 501 form be filed before raising money, states that knowingly or willfully violations of any provision of the Act is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, a fine of $10,000, or three times the amount which was improperly received, may be assessed.
If Gloria mistakenly failed to file the 501 form in January, and intended to run for re-election to the Assembly, his recent filing may be accepted by the Fair Political Practices Commission as a late filing.
There are several warning letters issued to campaigns by the FPPC in recent years where candidates failed to file a 501 before raising money then subsequently did complete their filings. No fines were accessed in those cases.
However, there are no FPPC letters listed on the website that deal with candidates that failed to file a 501 and never actually ran for that seat, or filed to run for two different races at the same time. A request for comment from the FPPC’s legal advice office was not answered.
A violation of the Political Reform Act may first be investigated by the Fair Political Practices Commission, but a violation can also be prosecuted by the California Attorney General, the District Attorney, or the elected City Attorney of San Diego.
If no action is taken against a violator after 120 days of being reported, a civil lawsuit can be filed by any citizen in the City in what is called a Private Attorney General action to enforce the law.
A request for comment sent to San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office was not returned by the time this story was published. Mara Elliott has endorsed Gloria’s campaign for Mayor.
Attorney Cory Briggs, a candidate for City Attorney, refused to comment in order to prevent a potential conflict of interest.
“The press and the public must remember that everyone is entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law,” Briggs said. “If I am elected as City Attorney, this matter could fall within my prosecutorial purview so it would therefore be inappropriate for me to make any comment,” Briggs concluded.