State still probing Measure J opponents

Ernie Dalidio says public has right to know who financed opposition to his bid to construct a shopping center on farmland off Highway 101

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comOctober 16, 2009 

A complaint filed by rancher-developer Ernie Dalidio to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission against his Measure J opponents remains under active investigation, the agency said this week.

“We have been very successful with closing out older enforcement cases within the past six months … and I am hopeful that within a few months we can work on its appropriate conclusion,” FPPC executive director Roman Porter wrote in an e-mail response to an inquiry by The Tribune.

Dalidio filed the complaint July 27, 2007, against Responsible County Development LLC, which provided 81 percent of the financing for the anti-Measure J campaign.

Throughout this process, Dalidio and his supporters have not known the identity of his opponents, although there is widespread speculation that the money came from downtown businesses.

Dalidio said he believes the public has a right to know who was behind the campaign to torpedo Measure J.

Dalidio said Responsible County Development violated the law when it hid the names of its members and failed to disclose the true purpose of the $220,944 “loan” it made to the No on J committee.

The loan was actually a contribution, Dalidio wrote in the complaint, because the group’s only purpose and activity was to contribute to the No on J campaign.

“Someone was using the LLC to funnel funds to the No on J Committee without disclosing the true source of the funds,” he wrote.

Measure J, a countywide ballot measure, passed overwhelmingly in November 2006.

A county Superior Court judge later struck it down, but it wound its way on appeal to the state Supreme Court, which on Wednesday validated Measure J.

The court’s decision paves the way for a shopping center on 131 acres of farmland next to Highway 101 by southern San Luis Obispo, although it does not guarantee that one will be built.

Porter said the statute of limitations for violation of the Political Reform Act is between four and five years, depending on the allegations.

“Typically,” he wrote, “our cases are resolved in one of the following ways: An advisory, warning or no-violation letter is issued, or the commission assesses a fine.”

“Any proposed fines are disclosed on the agenda that is distributed 10 days prior to a hearing,” he added.

He said the link to letters is http://www.fppc.ca.gov/index.html?id=539.

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