By TRACY WOOD, Voice of OC
Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, at the urging of campaign watchdog Shirley Grindle, returned a $1,700 campaign contribution she received from the Orange County Employees Association or OCEA in apparent violation of the county’s campaign finance law.
“After several e-mails back and forth with Janet Nguyen, she finally refunded [the] contribution she had accepted from OCEA,” Grindle wrote in an email to Voice of OC.
Nguyen did not return phone calls seeking comment, but earlier told Orange County Register her campaign staff did not make her aware of the source of some of her donations.
The state Fair Political Practices Commission, which enforces state laws on campaign donations, is investigating four of the five county supervisors for potential violations. But the amount of money a candidate may raise from an individual donor or business is governed the county’s campaign finance ordinance, dubbed TIN CUP, an acronym for “Time Is Now, Clean Up Politics.” Grindle is the author of TIN CUP.
The Orange County Register reported last month that the county employees union donated $1,700 to Nguyen in 2009 through its political action committee. In 2010, the union contributed another $1,700 to Nguyen through a political committee named California Citizens for Fair Government, the Register reported.
The money was for Nguyen’s 2012 supervisorial re-election campaign, but the county’s law on campaign contributions limited a group’s total donations to $1,700 for each election cycle.
“I had urged her to make this refund because the source of funds originated with OCEA who passed substantial funds on to two other PACs,” Grindle stated in her email. “It is like pulling teeth to get these elected officials to refund money.”
OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino confirmed the union received the check.
“She did return it, and I wish more politicians would be returning us money,” he said. “It’s nice to receive money after so many years of giving money to politicians.”
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