Fair Political Practices Commission fines two Ojai First members

Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
A 2016 complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against the now-defunct political group “Ojai First,” resulted in a $488 fine to locals Michael Haley and David Byrne for failing to file campaign finance reports in a timely manner.
The FPPC unanimously approved the enforcement action Jan. 18 but found no evidence of an intent to conceal financial information.
Jay Wirenga, of the FPPC, noted that the case was “pretty low-level” and consisted of “minor and technical violations.”
The 2016 complaint, filed anonymously, alleged that Ojai First had made a non-reported, in-kind donation to then-City Council candidate Suza Francina, in the form of a banner that flew over town during Ojai Day, Oct. 15, 2016, in support of Francina's campaign.
“I had to spend weekends sending (FPPC) receipts and bank statements,” said Francina. “I had to show that there was no intentional wrongdoing. I received a warning to keep my records in order, but they found nothing wrong.”
Indeed, the violations uncovered by the FPPC had nothing to do with Francina's campaign.
The two violations, failure to timely file two campaign reports, were related to Ojai First's efforts in opposition to the “Plan Don't Ban.” initiative that sought to legalize and regulate 90 short-term rentals in the city of Ojai. 
See also: “Fair Political Practices Commission will look into Ojai First complaint,” Ojai Valley News, Dec. 1, 2016.

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