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Breaking News

City Attorney Shannon Sues "California Citizens for Neighborhood Empowerment," Seeks Triple Civil Fines, Alleges Acceptance of Contributions Grossly In Excess of LB Campaign Reform Act

City Prosecutor Reeves & Shannon Agree Civil Penalty Is Best At This Stage of Proceedings

Shannon indicates civil discovery could shed light on committee, its members and activities: "We intend to uncover who exactly was responsible for these violations."

(April 17, 2002) -- On behalf of the City of Long Beach, LB City Attorney Robert Shannon today filed suit in L.A. Superior Court seeking substantial penalties -- triple the amount of certain contributions -- and an injunction against "California Citizens for Neighborhood Empowerment," its treasurer, Kinde Durkee [as treasurer of the group] and fifty as yet unnamed defendants, alleging the group, registered as an independent political committee, violated LB Campaign Reform Act by accepting contributions grossly in excess of contribution limits in support of a Mayoral candidate. posts a copy of the complaint in pdf form on a link below.

In a campaign filing, "California Citizens for Neighborhood Empowerment" indicated it was an independent group in support of Vice Mayor Dan Baker's Mayoral bid.

In a written release, City Attorney Shannon said, "One of the most frustrating aspects of this case for the public is the lack of information forthcoming about the persons responsible for the mailers. Through this action,we intend to uncover who exactly was responsible for these violations."

Mr. Shannon's release indicates that he and City Prosecutor Tom Reeves have agreed "that at this stage of the proceedings" the seeking of a substantial civil penalty is the best and most efficient way to ensure compliance with the law."

Vice Mayor Baker has denied any connection with or wrongdoing on his part concerning the activities of the independent group.

The independent group's treasurer, who handles bookkeeping for numerous CA political campaigns, is also treasurer for Mr. Baker's Mayoral campaign and this is not unlawful or the focus of the suit.

The City Attorney's suit centers on allegations that the group violated LB's Campaign Reform Act which limits contributions to $600 in support of a candidate in the Mayoral primary. The group filings indicate it accepted contributions of amounts of up to $15,000 in support of Baker's Mayoral bid.

The suit, filed on behalf of the City of LB, also asks the Court to grant injunctive relief restraining further actions of this nature, alleging they would cause great and irreparable harm to the City:

[S]aid conduct will serve to subvert the election process in the City by allowing defendants to exercise a disproportionate or controlling financial influence on the election of candidates in the City by virtue of defendants' acceptance and expenditure of campaign funds far in excess of those legally available to other candidates in the same elective race. Furthermore, said conduct will have the effect of undermining the credibility and integrity of the government process by fostering a public perception that votes are being improperly influenced by monetary contributions and will further create an overwhelming and patently unfair fund-raising advantage [for the group and the candidate or candidates it supports] over other candidates participating in the same race.

To view City Attorney Shannon's Superior Court complaint in pdf form, click City of LB v. CA Citizens for Neighborhood Empowerment, et al. [Attachment of LB Muni Code section omitted.]

A request for comment to Burbank-based Durkee & Associates has been made and will be posted here as received.

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