Shirley Weber speaks at the Westin Hotel in downtown San Diego, June 7, 2016. (Milan Kovacevic/KPBS)
Shirley Weber speaks at the Westin Hotel in downtown San Diego, June 7, 2016. (Milan Kovacevic/KPBS)

The state Fair Political Practices Commission fined San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber $4,000 for failing to report large contributions in a timely manner during her 2014 re-election campaign.

Why this matters

State laws that require candidates and committees quickly report large donations allow voters to see who is funding political efforts.

The commission announced last week that Weber, a Democrat, was late in reporting an $8,200 donation from the United Domestic Workers of America Action Fund and $4,100 from Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Weber, who is running for re-election this year, also didn’t report by the required deadline contributions her campaign committee made to other political groups: $34,000 to the California Democratic Party; $2,000 to Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, a Los Angeles Democrat who resigned in December for health reasons; and two $1,500 donations to the San Diego County Democratic Party.

Through a spokesman, Weber declined to be interviewed about the fines. Her campaign spokesman, Joe Kocurek, called the campaign finance filing errors mistakes that won’t happen again.

“We acknowledge that these were errors on our part,” Kocurek said. “We make sure our processes are in place, moving forward, that we don’t make the same errors.”

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Kocurek said Weber’s campaign committee has paid the $4,000 fine.

Jay Wierenga, a Fair Political Practices Commission spokesman, said the agency takes many factors into account when it determines the amount of a fine.

“First and foremost is harm to the public — does it involve information that the public should have?” Wierenga said.

The commission considers if candidates have a history of violations and if they cooperate with the investigations. In Weber’s case, the commission found the violations were out of negligence rather than malice.

The commission last week also announced fines against two other San Diego County politicians:

  • Carla Keehn, a federal prosecutor who ran unsuccessfully for Superior Court judge in 2014, was fined $500 for twice reporting large donations late. One was for $5,000 from Amy Goodman of Del Mar; the other was $5,000 from Keehn herself.
  • Whitney Benzian, a Coronado councilman, was fined $100 for failing to disclose on his 2016 economic interest form that he is a partner in Benzian Brothers. His amended form now lists that he has less than $10,000 in income from the real estate business.

We’ll let you know when big things happen.

Leonardo Castañeda was a reporter and economic analyst for inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email leocastaneda [at] inewsource [dot] org.