The Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District received a letter of warning from the Fair Political Practices Commission for the state of California in regards to a 2018 campaign-related mailer that went out on the taxpayers’ dime.
The FPPC’s investigation found that the district distributed a letter and fact sheet in October 2018, ahead of November elections, related to a bond measure on the ballot that would modernize the infrastructure of district buildings.
While the FPPC found the letter and fact sheet was a violation of the Political Reform Act, it also found the harm to the public was “relatively low.” The cost to mail the items was estimated to have cost taxpayers approximately $500.
One of the main reasons the FPPC found the mailer to be a violation was because it “unambiguously urges a particular result in an election.” The warning letter went on to say that an appeal from then-Superintendent Larry King unambiguously urged the mailer’s recipients to vote in favor of the bond measure by saying that the district was in “desperate need of repairs and renovations” that the bond could help fix.
“The fact sheet, in addition to explaining the bond measure, emphasized the benefit to the local community and that costs were expected to increase, implying urgency in voting for this bond measure,” read the FPPC’s warning letter. “In addition, the fact sheet stressed that there were ‘no feasible alternatives’ to fund the necessary renovations and modernization of the district’s facilities. Taken together with the informational material about the bond measure, the letter and fact sheet unambiguously urge the reader to vote in favor of the measure.”
While the FPPC’s letter is just a warning, if the commission finds the school district at fault for a violation again, it could be forced to pay up to $5,000 for each violation.
As of now, the FPPC considered the warning letter sufficient and closed the case for the district’s violation.
Acton-Agua Dulce School District officials were not immediately available for comment at the time of this publication.
The complaint was filed by local activist Stephen Petzold.