FPPC Fines Lobbyist Richie Ross, Councilman Xavier Campos

Sacramento’s most notorious lobbyist and San Jose’s shadiest council member each got slapped with fines by the state political watchdog.

Richie Ross will have to pay $5,000 in penalties after the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) ruled that he purposely placed an elected official—in this case termed-out state Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-San Jose)—under personal obligation by never collecting a debt.

Since Fong’s 2008 win, the legislator has owed Ross $100,000. Apparently, that six-year-old six-figure past-due sum worked out fine for Ross, who never made any efforts to collect the cash after the first invoice. He’s invariably been able to count on Fong’s vote. Of the 42 bills Ross lobbied for between 2009 and 2013, 35 moved to the Assembly floor. All 35 got a “yes” from Fong.

Now, Ross will have to write off that debt, which won’t matter much considering he got his money’s worth from Fong. Meanwhile, Fong’s off the hook, which is a nice parting gift as he winds down after a failed shot at San Jose’s City Council.

The penalty, meanwhile, is nothing but a rap on the wrist for Ross, who should probably be barred from lobbying altogether. According to the FPPC ruling, Ross told investigators that he didn’t even realize that his dual professions as lobbyist and campaign consultant presented any conflict. Really?

Ross was also subject to an older complaint from 2006 alleging a similar violation. The case was dropped, however, after the FPPC concluded that he made reasonable attempts to collect debt from the candidate.

Back in San Jose, Councilman Xavier Campos dodged any major violations, but got cited for a spate of questionable practices that will cost him $5,500 in FPPC fines.

Campos, together with his campaign manager, Linda Delgado, didn’t have receipts for some $10,000 he loaned to his campaign, as well as invoices or receipts for nearly $40,000 in expenditures.

He also routinely missed deadlines for campaign statements and failed to keep accurate, complete records. And the fact that he was taking cashier checks raises some eyebrows—donations are supposed to come directly from donors’ bank accounts.

Leading up to his 2010 election to the District 5 seat, Campos accepted eight cashier checks and money orders totaling nearly $2,000, including one from developers, a night club, former San Jose council member Manny Diaz’s wife, Sandra Diaz, and a cinnamon bread bakery.

Neither the Ross nor the Campos ruling would have come about had it not been for San Jose Inside first reporting on both cases.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the News Editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

4 Comments

  1. The writing style is more like Fly’s than Jennifer’s.

    Ross forgave $100k debt owed by Fong and Fong voted 35 for 42 on Ross backed bills. Can you say quid pro quo? I guess the FPPC did little digging into that influence peddling. The MINIMUM fine assessed against each should have been $100k. The FPPC seems to be racing to catch the Contractors State License Board as the most ineffective state agency.

    Xavier–Shirakawa Light–got off way too easy, as well. Jennifer: follow up to see if Big Sis abusive-to-staff Nora pays the tab for her worthless POS little brother.

    • I always have to remind myself that the staff of SJI/Metro are at best “unprofessional” on the way they present stories… if they like (or maybe not like but fear and if not fear either owe or want favor from….) a politician an FPPC fine is just an inconsequential aside – think the treatment they gave the $1.00 – one dollar- fine the FPPC hit Mayor Reed with fir his illegal loan to Herrerra (?)… or the applause heaped on the FPPC for finding Liccardo did nothing wrong by fundraising before statutes allowed even though his campaign admitted wrong doing and returned the cash…
      Like, fear owe or owed…? Not much of any is embodied in a Shirakawa or X, Campos… and there is the ongoing axe SJI grinds against Nora… this site and it’s staff are case studies in unprofessionalism and they make no attempt to hide it.

      • Xavier Campos is a current city council member who is fined for election impropriety, he’s been under criminal investigation several times and still may face charges pending the outcome of Shirakawa’s legal proceedings regarding the illegal flyers sent out to benefit Campos in the first run for council seat. How is reporting that an axe to grind?

        If these folks don’t want it reported that they’re breaking the law they could easily STOP BREAKING THE LAW. The constant criminal investigations aren’t SJI doing (although to their credit they have helped uncover the criminal acts) That’s a public service not an unprofessional vendetta.