SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, December 2, the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office notified the public that it would be referring complaints against the activist organization Santa Monicans for Quality Government (SMQG) to the District Attorney’s office for further examination. Criminal investigation is a possibility.
At this point, the City Attorney is not making any determinations of “illegal conduct.”
The complaint was filed by a competing activist organization based in Santa Monica called the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable Community (SMCLC). According to the complaint on file with the City Attorney:
“The SMQG CityGPC campaign disclosure statement received by the City Clerk on October 25, 2010, stated under penalty of perjury, that SMQG had no reportable activity neither expenditures nor contributions. This statement was incomplete and inaccurate”¦Thereafter, SMQG reported three late payments totaling $10,000 only to the state and not also to Santa Monica as required by law.”
The essence of the controversy appears to be that the SMQG did not properly file financial disclosures as required by city law. Campaign activities were conducted by SMQG without a paper trail, causing the SMCLC to retaliate, asserting illegality on the part of SMQG. Although neither side claims political motivation or animus, both organizations campaigned for different candidates and generally speaking represent opposite sides of the political spectrum. SMCLC, for example, admittedly seeks to prevent development, while the SMQG is backed almost exclusively by developers.
According to the SMCLC website: “While Santa Monica is becoming weighed down by traffic gridlock, intensified building is going on at an alarming rate”¦Keeping Santa Monica livable, requiring new growth to be on a scale that is both sane and sustainable is a key goal of SMCLC.”
Conversely, documents obtained by the Daily Press reveal that $41,000 in gifts to the SMQG was from real estate companies.
Fred Huebscher, political consultant and President of the SMQG, responded to allegations of fraud in a statement to Canyon News. As Huebscher argued, “The charges are without merit. We complied with all state laws. This is a political agenda. They were trying to defeat our candidate Pam O’Connor and they lost. They are very upset about this [the election].” Referring to to the SMCLC, Huebscher remarked, “It’s odd that they are so upset. They are actually skirting the law in the way they fund themselves, and if not the letter of the law, the spirit of the law. The SMCLC frequently exceeds the contribution limit of $250.” Speaking again of the SMCLC, Mr. Huebscher noted, “They ran a very ineffective campaign. They should blame themselves.”
Parties await the DA’s analysis.