FPPC Clears Alameda County Democratic Central Committee of Wrongdoing

ALAMEDA COUNTY | The California Fair Political Practices Commission, the government body that oversees campaign ethics, cleared the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee of violating the state’s Political Reform Act.

“After completing our investigation, we found insufficient evidence of a violation of the Act, and we are closing our file on this matter,” said a letter from the FPPC, dated July 25.

During a meeting earlier this month, Alameda County Democratic Party Chair Robin Torello, announced news of the FPPC findings to its members, which was followed by a round of joyous cheers, according to those in attendance.

The FPPC’s investigation was reportedly triggered last April by a blog posted months before by central committee member Margarita Lacabe. In the article she alleged some committee members had entered into an earmarking scheme to mask donations from political action committees through the local party committee to endorsed candidates of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.

The investigation may come with some cost to the local party finances, in addition, to Lacabe. Local county officials suggest the roughly $8,000 in legal costs incurred by the central committee to defend itself is money taken away from prospective candidates this fall. One, incidentally, is Lacabe’s husband, Mike Katz-Lacabe, who is running for a seat on the San Leandro City Council.

Lacabe’s influence at the central committee, already limited, appears rock bottom. She did not attend the monthly meeting earlier this August and has been described as disruptive and argumentative since her election in 2010. In recent months, one committee colleague even moved to censure Lacabe for her behavior.

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