The ghost of election past has come back to haunt former Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, as state political watchdogs unearthed suspicious activity from his campaign coffers back in 2012. According to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), Esteves and his wife transferred nearly $20,000 from the campaign to their personal bank accounts. The former mayor also failed to keep records to back his claim that many of those transfers—some made by his wife, Susan—were reimbursements for campaign expenses. That’s two counts against Esteves and his campaign treasurer at the time, Arsenio Iloreta. The proposed judgment for the violations: $6,000. The FPPC will vote on the order when it meets March 16. Iloreta and Esteves didn’t return calls by press time, so it’s unclear how they justify such an egregious lapse in bookkeeping. According to the FPPC, the investigation was prompted by a complaint about Esteves’ use of a donated campaign office space. During that probe, investigators uncovered some questionable account withdrawals. Esteves’ campaign statements from 2012 through 2014 reported a total of 98 expenditures. But he produced a receipt or invoice for only 19 of them. Many of his wife’s expenditures—reportedly for food, ads, door hangers and T-shirts, to name a few—were made in cash. The FPPC noted in its stipulation that it couldn’t confirm whether each payment from the mayoral committee was indeed payback for campaign costs. On the flip side, however, it couldn’t confirm that the money was misused. So why doesn’t that rise to the level of a criminal investigation? Fly couldn’t get the FPPC to give a straight answer. When deciding how big a fine to levy, the commission considers similar cases, whether or not the respondent has a record of flouting election law and how experienced they are as a candidate. Esteves had been running campaigns for more than a decade at the time of his alleged violations. Word is he’s interested in running for a county supervisor seat in the future, which brings to mind another person who had trouble keeping campaign receipts.