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Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals fined by state for campaign filing violations

The California Fair Political Practices Commission has fined Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals $1,101 for Political Reform Act violations stemming from his 2014 mayoral campaign.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission has fined Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals $1,101 for Political Reform Act violations stemming from his 2014 mayoral campaign. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

The California Fair Political Practices Commission has fined Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals $1,101 for Political Reform Act violations stemming from his 2014 mayoral campaign.

The violations are all for missing a deadline for filing contribution reports for five nonmonetary donations totaling $7,227 during his campaign against incumbent Debbie Peterson. Shoals ultimately won the election with 54 percent of the vote, beating Peterson by 339 votes.

The state’s Political Reform Act requires candidates to file a contribution report within 24 hours for donations of more than $1,000. Shoals, who did his campaign filings himself, didn’t file those reports by the deadline, and instead listed the donations in his semiannual campaign finance statement in February 2015.

In its decision, the commission noted there was no evidence Shoals intended to conceal the donations.

“It was a tough campaign as far as trying to find time to do (the filings),” Shoals said, “and I take full responsibility.”

The fine stems from a 155-page complaint filed by Kevin Rice of San Luis Obispo, accusing Shoals of failing to follow several state contribution standards during his campaign, including missing deadlines for filing campaign disclosure forms and failing to file required documents or contributions, as well as miscellaneous clerical errors, such as not including the correct address or occupation of a donor. The complaint listed 52 separate violations.

Most of the violations were amended without penalties to Shoals.

“I’m satisfied the FPPC agrees with me and believes the $1,101 fine is sufficient to motivate Mayor Shoals to be diligent and transparent in the future,” Rice said Tuesday. “All candidates should take notice of this penalty in disclosing their campaign contributions.”

As he seeks re-election this year, Shoals said he will hire someone to do his campaign statements so no similar violations occur.

“I paid the fine, and I’m looking to close this chapter,” he said. “We’re doing some great things in Grover, and I want to keep the focus on that.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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