An elected school board member is under investigation by the state agency that examines election finances, GV Wire has learned. The Fair Political Practices Commission is looking into complaints that State Center Community College Trustee Eric Payne has failed to file required documentation on time and sometimes not at all.
The first complaint came a few weeks following the November election where Payne was elected to a second term as trustee. The complainant, Jensen Vang, alleged that Payne laundered campaign contributions and accepted anonymous contributions. Vang cites a Nov. 1, 2016 Fresno Bee article as evidence. That article noted that Payne failed to report certain financial documents on time.
Then, this past March, an anonymous complaint alleged Payne failed to file his Statement of Economic Interest (also known as Form 700), a requirement for elected officials. The document shows any investments, real estate, loans, gifts and other finances for a public official.
“It’s not uncommon for documents to be filed late. This was a minor oversight. We are working diligently to comply with all the requests from the FPPC, just as we’ve done in the past where individuals from opposing campaigns have filed complaints and those issues have been unfounded. We are working fully to comply with the needs and requests with the FPPC,” Payne told GV Wire.
Payne did file such forms in the years he ran in 2012 and 2014. However, a records search with the SCCCD failed to produce any Form 700 documents. The other six members have regularly filed Form 700, which is due by April 1 of each year.
“I do file my 700 form through the county elections office,” Payne said.
Filings not at County Elections Office
When asked specifically why SCCCD does not have his From 700, Payne reiterated he filed with the county: “Those issues have not been brought to my attention by the FPPC.”
GV Wire checked with the county elections office after Payne’s statement. They say they have no record of Payne’s other Form 700 filings.
Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth told GV Wire that “Form 700s are filed by candidates at the time they take out candidate filing documents. Annual reports are filed with the candidate’s district.”
She also says that another document, Form 460 — which lists contributors to a campaign — has yet to be received by her office. The semi-annual filing was due July 31.
“I look forward to complying with the requests with both the County Elections Office and the FPPC to resolve this matter. We are working diligently to meet the timelines and the requests that are being made of the committee,” Payne said.
Payne has been in trouble with the FPPC before. In December, he was fined $200 for not paying his state registration fee on time.