Politics

DC watchdog files complaint against Salas over alleged campaign finance violations

A Washington-based nonpartisan watchdog filed a complaint against Calif. Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield) asking Federal elections officials launch a probe into the alleged illegal use of campaign resources from Salas’ Assembly campaign to launch his bid for Congress.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (or FACT) filed the complaint to the Federal Elections Commission on Friday following reports that Salas used yard signs from his Assembly campaign during his campaign announcement in mid-October to challenge Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford).

The signs utilized Salas’ distinctive Assembly branding but featured an interesting design twist – masking tape – with the words “For Congress” handwritten where past signs read “For Assembly.”

The use of the signs violates key elements of Federal campaign finance laws, the nonpartisan group alleges.

“[F]unds raised for a state campaign are not subject to federal contribution limitations or federal reporting requirements for contributions and expenditures, and these ‘non-federal’ funds cannot be used for a federal election,” the complaint reads.

“In addition to funds, a federal campaign cannot use the assets of a state campaign. The regulation also specifies that federal candidate campaign committees are prohibited from accepting contributions from a non-federal candidate campaign committee. . .”

Following initial reports of a potential violation, Salas cancelled a TV appearance on Sunday Morning Matters with Fresno-based KSEE 24 anchor Alexan Balekian, the complaint states.

After abruptly cancelling in the wake of his announcement, Salas ultimately appeared on the show a week later and dodged and demurred questions from Balekian over whether he violated campaign finance rules.

“This is a case where the evidence of a violation is further supported by Salas’ response,” said FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold.

“Candidates and elected officials should be held to high standards to ensure they do not abuse the inherent power that comes from holding office. Salas’ refusal to answer simple and direct questions about his federal campaign indicate an FEC investigation is necessary, and it is disrespectful to the citizens who deserve straightforward answers from elected officials. We requested the FEC not only investigate this case, but also ensure that Salas has not used any other state campaign assets for his federal campaign.”

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.