(May 2, 2002, updated May 3) -- LB City Attorney Robert Shannon today filed suit in L.A. Superior Court seeking up to treble civil damages and an injunction against the CA Republican Party, alleging the Party accepted contributions exceeding LB's Campaign Reform Act Limit of $600 for an independent expenditure in support of a Mayoral candidate.
The suit [update: posted verbatim on a link below] doesn't name the candidate but the CA Republican Party is known to have sent a mailing prior to the April 9 election to some LB households with Republican voters in support of Norm Ryan.
An independent expenditure report filed by the CA Republican Party on April 9 and referenced in the suit indicates the amount of the independent expenditure was $5,431.
The City Attorney's suit does not accuse Mr. Ryan or his campaign of wrongdoing. It is similar to a suit filed by the City Attorney on April 17 against "California Citizens for Neighborhood Empowerment" (CCNE). That action alleged CCNE (which lists itself as independent of any candidate campaign) accepted contributions exceeding LB's Campaign Reform Act in support of Mayoral candidate Dan Baker.
"One of our aims in filing this lawsuit is to emphasize that no organization is above the law. That includes the major political parties and their political action machines," said LB City Attorney Robert Shannon in a written release.
Attempts to obtain comment from the CA epublican Party were unsuccessful as of 3 p.m. [Update: The Party subsequently issued a statement which we detail at CA Republican Party Fires Back] For his part, Mr. Ryan termed the City Attorney's action "more political than legal" by inviting the public to draw a parallel between the CCNE and Republican party mailings.
City Attorney Shannon said the action taken by his office came after receipt of a complaint by a LB resident.
Ryan, now in the midst of a Mayoral write-in campaign for June 2002 election. said he has no control over what that CA Republican Party does and none of the officers in his campaign were officers of the Republican party.
In response to a question by LBReport.com following up on reports in other LB media, City Attorney Shannon said a $2,500 independent expenditure by LB entrepreneur Chris Pook in support of Mayor O'Neill's candidacy complied with LB's Campaign Reform Act (apart from some late filed paperwork).
Citing a Supreme Court case, Mr. Shannon noted that the city does not have the legal power constitutionally to regulate an expenditure -- even a large one -- by an individual (unless the individual accepts other limits not applicable here.)
However, the city can legally regulate contributions to a committee that makes those expenditures if they exceed a specified limit, Mr. Shannon said.
[update] A copy of the City Attorney's civil suit can be viewed in pdf form at: City of LB v. CA Republican Party civil suit.