“Accusations against a California campaign finance watchdog went undisclosed for months”


A campaign finance investigation against a top official at California’s political watchdog agency sat in limbo and hidden from public view for months, raising questions about whether the government organization holds its own members to the same standard as candidates and campaigns across the state.

The complaint against Catharine Baker, a member of the California Fair Political Practices Commission and former Republican legislator, was filed in April with the agency’s enforcement division. On Nov. 12 — the same day The Times requested information regarding the case — the FPPC enforcement division recused itself from the investigation and asked Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta to assume control.

“I’m very surprised by this,” said Bob Stern, former FPPC general counsel. “The question then becomes, what other cases are they not disclosing? Is this one bad example or typical of how they are operating?”

Fair Political Practices Commission Chairman Richard Miadich said he instructed staff members months ago to move the case to the attorney general and provided a copy of an email dated April 29 confirming that directive. But he said he didn’t know why the transfer of the case didn’t happen until just a few days ago….

“The anonymous complaint is incorrect, both on the facts and on the law,” Baker said in a phone interview.

At issue is whether she failed to properly file paperwork related to a possible 2030 campaign for the state Assembly and whether additional disclosure of donors was required when transferring $125,000 in leftover funds from her 2018 campaign committee to an account for a possible future campaign.

“Our filings were complete and accurate and filed on time with the advice of legal counsel to ensure full compliance,” she said.

Share this: