Checking candidates' campaign contributions not easy, but it is doable for Yorba Linda's residents
One constant in Yorba Linda politics is controversy regarding the financing of campaigns for City Council members, school trustees and water board directors, especially related to cash that comes from sources outside of the city or school and water district boundaries.
Some residents consider these contributions tainted and say outside special interests are trying to buy the election, while others contend there's nothing wrong with an individual or business – no matter their location – supporting candidates and causes they find worthy.
Fortunately, state law, as administered by the Fair Political Practices Commission, makes it possible for voters to check how candidates and political action committees raise the money to buy endorsements on voter guides and pay for signs, mailers and automated phone calls.
But the law makes sussing out a candidate's or committee's cash trail possible, not easy or timely, since the locations candidates file required disclosures vary, and the cash often isn't reported until well after an election.
The law mandates filings twice every year. Deadline for reporting money raised and spent from Jan. 1 through June 30 is July 31, while the due date for income and expenses July 1 through Dec. 31 is Jan. 31.
In an election year, two additional filings also are required: July 1 through Sept. 24 reports are due Sept. 29 and Sept. 25 through Oct. 22 reports must be in by Oct. 27. Deadline for reports on cash given and bills paid after Oct. 22 is Jan. 31, a fact well-known to major donors.
Here's how residents can find financial information on candidates and committees much more detailed than can be reported in the confines of this column:
City Council reports are available at the City Clerk's counter at City Hall. Ask for Form 460 statements for the persons or committees you want to see. All of the forms for the current election cycle are in a three-ring binder you can ask to review.
Also, council data is posted on the city web page (but contributor addresses are redacted). Click on “Documents” at the top of the home page and click on “here” in the fourth line under “Public Records Request.” Next, click on “Browse,” “City Clerk” and “Campaign Statements,” which are in alphabetical order. Finally, click on “460” for the time period sought.
School trustee and water director candidates and committees file at the Registrar of Voters office,1300 S. Grand Ave., Building C, Santa Ana. While electronic filings are posted on the registrar's web site, local candidates and committees file paper forms, so a trip to the office is required for viewing.
Also available at these locations are candidates' Form 700, the Statement of Economic Interests, listing personal financial information in broad categories and Form 497 listing donations of $1,000 or more in the 90 days before an election that are required to be filed within 24 hours of receipt of the contribution.