SACRAMENTO – The full Legislature has approved a bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) which would assess a financial penalty on candidates who lie on ballot statements when seeking political office. AB 894 now goes to the governor for his signature.
AB 894 would impose a fine of up to $5,000 if a candidate includes knowingly false information on statements they submit for inclusion on election ballots. The fine can be multiplied if an offender is convicted on associated criminal charges.
“Candidates who shamelessly lie to voters are committing fraud and they should pay the penalty,” Frazier said. “For many voters, the only information they may have about a candidate is what the candidate submits for a ballot statement. This is especially true in down-ballot races, such as the Board of Education, which usually don’t get a lot of media coverage.”
Frazier authored AB 894 after a Jeff Belle, a candidate elected to represent East County on the Contra Costa County Board of Education in 2014, was found to have blatantly lied about his qualifications, background and criminal record in the candidate statement he submitted for inclusion on the ballot. Instead of a punishment, the candidate received just an entry into a diversion program for offenders. The current fine for intentionally misleading voters on ballot statements is $1,000.