Nelson Esparza will be punished for accusations of illegal campaign transfers for his upcoming 2018 Fresno city council run.

GV Wire has learned that Esparza signed a settlement letter with the City of Fresno, stipulating that he must return money transferred to his city account back to his account for his successful 2016 run for Fresno County Board of Education. He will not be allowed to use such funds for city council, nor use any tangible materials paid with the transferred contributions (he may continue to use “electronic media or images” though).

The council hopeful is looking to represent District 7 in central Fresno, currently occupied by Clint Olivier. The seat will be open because Olivier is term-limited after his election in 2010 and subsequent 2014 re-election.

Esparza will also have to pay a $500 fine to the city. If he fails to live up to the agreement, Esparza faces another penalty of $5,950.

After raising nearly $15,000 for his Board campaign committee this year, Esparza then transferred $4,950 to his city council fundraising committee. Marcelino Valdez Jr., a former Republican Party executive, notified the city of the potential infraction in a letter.

Valdez felt that by holding a fundraiser in April, Esparza was actually raising money for his city council run. By law, city council candidates have to wait until February 12, 2018 before being able to collect campaign donations.

In signing the agreement with the city, Esparza does not admit any violations of the city rules. The agreement was signed by Esparza and his attorney; as well as city clerk Yvonne Spence and city attorney Douglas Sloan.

Esparza would not comment on the agreement, but did send GV Wire this message: “The residents of District 7 continue to be my primary focus in this race, and I very much look forward to continuing my campaign to be their voice at City Hall. “

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