Remember the complaint filed two years ago by Shirley Grindle alleging $3,400 in illegal contributions made two years before that by Bill O’Connell Sr. to former Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu’s supervisor run in 2010? The OCDA issued its finding in the matter today.
In a nutshell, the District Attorney concluded that an unintentional technical violation occurred, and “that the violation was [not] criminal in nature because the evidence indicates that O’Connell and Sidhu did not have any criminal intent to violate the ordinance.” According to the DA, $1,700 of the total of $5,100 in contributions exceed the TIN CUP limits, and Sidhu’s campaign will forfeit that amount e sunty’s general fund in accordance with the ordinance.
From the DA’s letter:
The investigation was precipitated by three contributions made by businessman William O’Connell to Harry Sidhu in support of Sidhu’s campaign for County Supervisor in 2010. The contributions were made by O’Connell on behalf of three separate companies with which O’Connell and his wife are closely associated. The contributions were brought to the attention of the OCDA in 2012.
The OCDA’s investigation revealed that there was a technical violation of the ordinance, as the total amount of the three contributions, $5,100, exceeded the maximum amount which can be made by any one entity, or multiple entities controlled by the same individuals. The maximum contribution allowed at the time was $1,700. An additional $1,700 was allowed because that additional amount was contributed on behalf of O’Connell’s spouse.
This is relevant because the California Attorney General determined in 2005 that County campaign finance limits prohibiting a husband and wife from making individual campaign contributions are unconstitutional. In other words, a husband and wife each have a right under the State and Federal Constitutions to contribute to the candidates of their choice, without those contributions being aggregated by local campaign finance limits.
Accordingly, we determined that the total amount of the contributions allowed in this instance is $3,400. The additional $1,700 contribution, therefore, exceeded the limit imposed by the County TIN CUP ordinance. The OCDA does not find, however, that the violation was criminal in nature because the evidence indicates that O’Connell and Sidhu did not have any criminal intent to violate the ordinance. The evidence established that the contributions were made in good faith and neither party attempted to conceal or misrepresent any evidence relating to the contributions.
Accordingly, because the nature of the violation is civil, rather than criminal, a negotiated resolution has been agreed to by the parties. Sidhu will forfeit the amount of the disallowed contribution, $1,700, to the County’s General Fund in accordance with the provisions of the TIN CUP ordinance. The negotiated settlement avoids the necessity of the OCDA initiating a civil lawsuit to enforce the ordinance.
With this resolution, the OCDA is closing its inquiry into this matter.
While the D.A.’s action will not satisfy the those who always demand a head on a pike, it is a sensible and fair resolution to the matter.