State Ethics Commission Rules Auditor-Controller Challenger Toni Smart Violated CA Political Reform Act

This week, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) ruled that Auditor-Controller Candidate Toni Smart violated the Political Reform Act. An FPPC letter dated May 23 and addressed to Smart and her campaign stated that she violated the Political Reform Act because “none of the information required to be disclosed about the loan you received was included in your first pre-election campaign statement.” The FPPC is the state ethics commission, created in 1974 when California voters passed Proposition 9, which is now known as the Political Reform Act.

After an investigation, the FPPC found that Smart’s campaign had received a $500 loan which was not properly disclosed. As part of the Political Reform Act, a candidate must file Schedule B of Form 460 which contains information about loans received. Smart’s failure to do so violated Section 84122 of the California Government Code, which states that information about loans to candidates’ campaigns must be disclosed about the party making the loan.

According to the FPPC, she “filed an amendment to disclose the information pertaining to the loan immediately after being contacted by the Enforcement Division.” It is unclear whether Smart’s intention was to conceal the loan but got caught by the FPPC or whether she simply made an accounting mistake that the FPPC caught. The former would be dishonest while the latter is simply incompetence.

This is the second error committed by Smart as she campaigns for the detail-oriented position of Auditor-Controller. When declaring her candidacy, Smart chose the party affiliation of the American Independent Party (AIP), best known as the party of segregationist Presidential Candidate George Wallace. Smart has since renounced her choice in parties and stated that she mistakenly checked the box for the AIP.

Commenting in 2014 on Troy Edgar’s failure to qualify for the ballot for Orange County Clerk-Recorder, Supervisor Todd Spitzer quipped that Edgar “couldn’t complete his important paperwork in order to run for the job in charge of our important paperwork!”

To borrow Spitzer’s line, Smart has been unable to properly complete her important paperwork as she runs for a job that ensures everyone else has properly completed their important paperwork.

Smart was unwilling or unable to properly account for a $500 loan for her $6,000 campaign as she seeks to be the head accountant for a County with a $6,000,000,000 budget.

Campaign finance forms are basic accounting while the Auditor-Controller is the head of accounting for the County of Orange. Checking boxes, computing error free calculations, using the correct governmental forms and following basic instructions is a necessity for any accountant and is particularly vital for the Auditor-Controller.

Smart is attempting to unseat Auditor-Controller Eric Woolery. While she runs for County office, she is also suing the County for wrongful termination. Previously, Woolery had been the second party in the lawsuit until he was dropped when it was announced that Smart’s termination papers would become public as part of a motion filed by Woolery’s attorneys. Smart, however, continues to sue the deeper pockets of County taxpayers.

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