Increases maximum fine from $1,000 to $10,000
Sacramento, CA – On Wednesday, May 10th, legislation by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Discovery Bay) that will raise penalties for candidates for office who make willful misrepresentations on their candidate statements passed the Assembly Elections committee on an unanimous 7-to-0 vote.
“We can’t allow candidates to dupe the voters…to lie their way into office when tax dollars or the education of our children are at stake,” Frazier stated. “When the public’s trust is in question, the public deserves to know the truth when reading an official candidate statement. This bill holds candidates accountable by increasing the fine for any willful misrepresentation.”
AB 894 would increase the current fine for a willful misrepresentation in a candidate statement to $10,000. The current fine is set at a maximum of $1,000, which has not been an effective deterrent and has not kept up with inflation.
In August 2015, the Contra Costa District Attorney filed a suit in court, The People of the State of California vs. Jeffrey Belle, against a candidate for the Contra Costa Board of Education for knowingly making a false statement of fact in a candidate statement with the intent to mislead voters. In this particular case the candidate falsified his education credentials, his residence, and his criminal record. Instead of a punishment including a fine, he received only entry into a diversion program for offenders, despite the injustice perpetrated upon the voters. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this remains a problem in other jurisdictions.
AB 894 now heads to the Assembly Floor.