For the past year or so, a handful of anonymous bloggers have lobbed insinuations and accusations against Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, who's up for re-election. These critics have trounced on everything from her character and age to her sartorial choices. Smith has ignored the chatter, but earlier this week someone filed a complaint against her opponent, retired sheriff’s Captain Kevin Jensen.
In a notice to the Fair Political Practices Commission, Smith supporter and business attorney Douglas Allen points to inconsistencies in Jensen’s campaign finance statements. Contributions weren’t reported on the right line, he says, and totals contradict amounts stated in other parts of the form.
The irregularities, “whether intentional or negligent, obscure his campaign financing and expenditures,” Allen wrote in the March 11 complaint.
Allen says he’s supported Smith since she won her first term in 1998 and decided to take a closer look at Jensen’s forms in a roundabout show of solidarity for the four-term incumbent. Both unions—the Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA) and the Correctional Peace Officers Association (CPOA)—endorsed Jensen early last summer, citing shaky morale, a dearth of resources and a lack of confidence in current leadership.
“I think there were some inappropriate things going on that led up to the endorsements,” Allen says, noting that the CPOA didn't even list Smith's name on the ballot. “So it tends to make me take a longer look at what’s going on with [Jensen’s] campaign.”
He points to a line where a donor, ex-deputy Mark Garcia, lists himself as a self-employed bounty hunter. Allen says he should mention his affiliation with Bad Boy Bail Bonds.
“It’s important that these forms report the whole story,” Allen says. “I know who he works for, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it’s important for the public to know who’s supporting the candidate. I’m not saying any of these are bad people, I’m just saying you have to report things properly."
A CPOA spokesman called the FPPC complaint a desperate move to disparage Jensen, who didn’t immediately return a call or email for comment.
The FPPC complaint comes on the heels of another filed by ex-San Jose cop Martin Monica, the fired police chief of a small Central Valley town who’s now a local loan broker. Monica filed a quo warranto—a petition to remove Smith from public office—through the Attorney General’s Office. He spent weeks rifling through Smith’s trash, peering in windows and digging up old news articles in an attempt to prove the sheriff doesn’t live where she says she does. The request got shut down two weeks after Monica filed it.
“I am writing to inform you that the documents you submitted are insufficient,” attorney Susan Duncan Lee wrote in her response. “We will not require proposed defendant Smith to respond to the pleadings, not will we approve the filing of a quo warranto petition on the basis of these documents.”
She goes on to advise him to get some help from an attorney next time.
Monica, who said a few weeks ago that he planned to run against Jensen and Smith, never officially filed for candidacy. His website’s down now and he didn’t return calls for comment.
UPDATE: Doug Allen filed another FPPC complaint Wednesday, this one taking aim at the Jensen-backing Deputy Sheriff's Association. He says the union failed to file campaign contribution reports for at least two years, during which it donated tens of thousands of dollars to several candidates. Interestingly, some of the donations the union failed to document were made to Smith back when the organization still supported her.