The California Fair Political Practices Commission is wrapping up a months-long investigation into records kept by the Monterey County Republican Central Committee, and proposing a $25,000 fine for a series of campaign finance law violations. The FPPC board is expected to approve the penalty at an Oct. 13 meeting. 

“If you look at how much money the committee was dealing with, I think we’ve done a good job of attempting to be in full compliance,” says Committee Chair Paul Bruno. “It’s just unfortunate the rules are so complex.”

The FPPC’s investigation responds to an audit by the Franchise Tax Board that found more than $500,000 in unreported contributions. In 2005-06, the committee handled about $2 million in contributions, 10 times more than usual. Cited for seven counts of reporting violations and two counts of contributions exceeding campaign finance caps, the committee faces a maximum penalty of $45,000. FPPC’s recommended amount is based on “repetitiously negligent behavior.” 

“I’m frustrated by the size of the fine,” Bruno says. “One agency did the audit, and the other agency took the findings and said, ‘We can get funds from this.’” 

Fines go toward the state’s general fund. 

The FPPC report names the committee and Chris Steinbruner, the committee’s former treasurer. He became vice-chair in July.

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