Alleging a “potentially enormous” amount of unreported campaign contributions, Nipomo resident Ed Eby filed a complaint against Lynn Compton—a candidate for San Luis Obispo County’s 4th supervisorial district—on May 20.
Eby’s complaint—filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC)—claims that Compton has completely failed to disclose the cost of several vehicles and trailers that she has used as “rolling billboards” for her campaign.
“It’s my opinion that Compton is trying to buy the seat with out-of-the-county contributions,” Eby told New Times, alleging that the vehicles were registered to Santa Maria’s Valley Farm Supply Inc. (owned by Compton and her husband) and that their attendant costs weren’t properly reported.
Eby said that whether the vehicles in question were rented or purchased outright by Valley Farm Supply, the cost should have been disclosed as a nonmonetary or “in kind” contribution, which is a donation made in goods, services, or time, rather than cash.
“I just want people to know where the money is coming from and the true amount of money that’s being spent,” Eby said.
The FPPC complaint specifically references a pickup truck, a large Mercedes van, and several utility trailers that have been wrapped with Compton’s visage. Eby said it’s possible that Compton’s campaign could be using more unreported vehicles.
Campaign finance disclosures show that Compton’s campaign has disclosed three different nonmonetary “wrap around costs” solely for vehicle wrap.
No contributions for the vehicles themselves are listed, but the cumulative contribution for “truck,” “vehicle,” and “trailer” wrap was reported at $10,572.12—entirely donated by Compton’s husband Pete, co-owner of Valley Farm Supply.
Compton’s campaign has been running a “Trailer-gate Thursdays” contest that challenges District 4 residents to “find Lynn’s trailer and snap a picture with it.” Pictures on Compton’s website show multiple vehicles wrapped in campaign advertisements.
In a statement emailed to New Times on May 21, Compton denied the validity of Eby’s complaint.
“This is a frivolous game being played by a financial supporter and contributor to Caren Ray’s campaign,” Compton wrote. “It is an attempt to distract the voters from the real economic damage Caren Ray is doing to our County by raising taxes and fees and gutting Proposition 13.
“Our campaign has not received any such notification from the FPPC regarding this alleged matter, and at this time we do not even know if the FPPC would dignify any such alleged complaint. This complaint is without merit,” she wrote.
Asked to detail why the FPPC complaint was without merit, Compton campaign manager Amber Johnson told New Times that “the statement stands on its own.”
Earlier in the campaign, Caren Ray—the current District 4 supervisor and one of Compton’s competitors in the race—was also the subject of a FPPC complaint.
In that case, Ray failed to disclose the street addresses of several donors to her campaign and listed post office boxes instead. Ray received a warning letter from the FPPC, fixed the mistakes, and said the incident was a “clerical error.”