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California election season sees hundreds of complaints to watchdog agency

November 6, 2012 |  2:00 pm

Even before the controversy over mystery donations funneled into California through an Arizona nonprofit, political pundits were saying this election has seen its share of mudslinging, dirty tricks and other misconduct by campaigns.

Besides the mystery donations, there were allegations in recent months of Democratic voters being re-registered as Republicans without their consent, a barrage of TV ads that distorted candidates’ positions and, in one case, a mailer that made public the Social Security number of an opposing candidate’s spouse.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission, which enforces campaign finance amd ethics laws, received 837 complaints in the months since the June 5 primary, about three-quarters of them alleging violations by campaigns. 

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 As a result, 345 investigations were opened by the panel and seven fines have been approved by the commission, with more to come, said Gary Winuk, the agency's chief of enforcement.

Still, Derek Cressman, regional director of Common Cause, notes past California elections have seen their share of controversies. ``I think it's about par for the course,'' he said of this year's election.


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Photo: A voter casts her ballot in the California primary in June. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press