The state agency in charge of overseeing political donations said it is investigating local City Council candidate Paul Herman’s campaign after receiving a report claiming he supported another campaign.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission said it received a complaint alleging that Herman’s campaign paid for two Facebook advertisements opposing Measure RC, a local rent regulation measure that is on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election. The complaint argued that the money spent on the ads should have been counted as contributions to Burbank Citizens for Responsible Government, which has filed with the state as an opponent of Measure RC.
However, the allegation said, the advertising dollars were not listed under the group’s received contributions.
The FPPC opened the case on Oct. 8. The commission rejected a related complaint by the same source against Burbank Citizens for Responsible Government, citing insufficient evidence to launch a case.
In a letter responding to the complaint that is still being investigated, the FPPC cautioned that “we have not made any determination about the validity of the allegation(s) you have made or about the culpability, if any, of the person(s) you identify in your complaint.”
Herman declined to comment on the investigation until after the FPPC closes the case.
According to Facebook advertising records, Herman ran two identical ads opposing Measure RC. The first ran from Aug. 15 to Aug. 16; the first statements submitted by the anti-Measure RC committee that indicated its formation appear to have been received by the Burbank city clerk on Aug. 18, according to filing records. Herman’s second ad on Measure RC ran from Aug. 16 to Aug. 19.
In total, Herman’s campaign Facebook account spent just over $700 on ads for his candidacy as well as against Measure RC. However, all 14 ads, including the two opposing Measure RC, are inactive. A note on each of the ads explains that the social media site removed them after they started running because their disclaimers did not follow Facebook advertising policies.
Herman said in a phone interview that the ads were taken down as part of Facebook’s identity verification process. He added that this is the second time he has had to verify his identify, a system he explained the company implemented to cut down on fraud.
However, Herman expressed concern that, because Facebook has previously announced that it would not allow new ads to run the week before the election, he will not be able to relaunch his ads by the time his identity is verified.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.