Orange, Calif. — Tustin City Council candidates James Perez and Kurt Bensworth were charged in an FPPC violation Monday for a series of campaign finance violations. The filed violations include reporting less than a quarter of the money they raised while not fully reporting expenditures, and not reporting to the public untold amounts of campaign expenditures such as Facebook advertisements, lawn signs, websites, and photo shoots.
Although they publicly announced raising nearly $54,000 as of early June, Perez and Bensworth collectively reported just $1,150 raised on their June 30th FPPC disclosure forms, and collectively reported just $13,500 on their September 19th FPPC disclosure forms (link here). Both candidates have purchased lawn signs, hired professional photographers, set up joint websites, and purchased Facebook advertisements — without reporting a cent to the public.
Perez and Bensworths’ committees Treasurer, Ms. Dana Hopkins, has been fined by the FPPC three prior times (FPPC 13/5, 14/402, 14/375) for violations related to campaign contributions and campaign reporting. These latest FPPC charges were submitted by Democratic Party of Orange County Political Director Ajay Mohan; these are the first charges party staff filed regarding Ms. Hopkins’ disclosures.
Regarding the FPPC charges, Chair Ada Briceño stated:
“Tustin deserves better than the old Republican shenanigans that Kurt Bensworth and James Perez represent. Tustin needs honest leaders, especially in these challenging times when so much is on the line.”
“This isn’t a case of one or two reporting errors. These violations have been going on for months, and might cover the bulk of their raised funds — if we know how much was raised at all. This appears to be a pattern of deceit intended to mislead other candidates and the public, and it shouldn’t be tolerated.”
About the Democratic Party of Orange County
Once famously known as “Reagan country,” after President Reagan called Orange County the place where “all good Republicans go to die,” Orange County is rapidly shifting from a Republican stronghold into a highly diverse Democratic metropolis.
Chair Ada Briceno, a longtime labor organizer, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11, and recently elected Democratic National Committee member, is the first immigrant and second Latina to lead the Democratic Party of Orange County. Her executive leadership team includes Latino, Vietnamese, millennial, and LGBT representation.
Democrats swept all seven Congressional seats in Orange County in 2018. Less than a year later, Democrats overtook countywide voter registration to become the region’s leading political party. Today, OC Democrats have gained more than a 2-point voter advantage over the GOP.
Orange County is the nation’s sixth largest county, with 3.2 million residents and more than half a million registered Democratic voters.