On June 28, City Council approved by 3 to 5 vote the Voluntary Campaign Contribution Pledge which holds candidates to receive $1,000 contributions per person and disclose the every contribution from $1 and up on their Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) 460 forms. Councilman Steven Nascimento, despite signing the pledge, has not held himself to that standard.
Recent filings for the FPPC campaign finance 460 form from Councilman Nascimento reveals that $619 was received by the Councilman during the second filing period from July 1 to Sept. 24 was not disclosed as the pledge necessitates.
Councilman Nascimento is currently the only candidate to have signed the contribution pledge and still have undisclosed contributions.
During the first filing period while discussions regarding campaign finance regulation, monetary influence, and transparency were ongoing, Councilman Nascimento raked in big money with approximately $23,000 from contributors, and a total of over $27,000 with loans and nonmonetary contributions.
He was the only candidate running for City Council to take in contributions of this size after Mayor Gary Soiseth placed campaign contribution reform as an item for future discussion on Mar. 1. Other candidates, such as Gil Esquer, only raised $650 and fellow challenger for District 4 Councilwoman Amy Bublak only collected a $100 fund transfer from her 2012 campaign.
On his first filing period, Councilman Nascimento accepted $3,678 in monetary contributions that were not disclosed. These contributions were not required to be disclosed because Councilman Nascimento received contributions prior to signing his voluntary pledge. However, his second filing period still has $619 dollars undisclosed even though the pledge has been signed.
Councilman Nascimento was asked if disclosure of the most recent contributions would be released, however, the Councilman had a different interpretation of the pledge he signed.
“Please note that the pledge is to “accept the voluntary contribution limit set forth in Resolution No. 2016-148”. The voluntary contribution limit is $1,000,” wrote Councilman Nascimento in an email.
“The pledge makes no mention of disclosing $1 contributions.”
Despite his claim, the language in Resolution 2016-148 acknowledges under Section 4, “Additional Requirements for Disclosures and Campaign Statement Filing” that candidates and committees controlled by a candidate shall disclose the contributions of $1 and up.
"It's a stringent, simple and straightforward resolution: any and all contributions of $1 or more by a donor will be reported on the 460 forms," clarified Mayor Soiseth, one of the authors of the resolution.
Councilwoman Amy Bublak, who also accepted and signed the candidate pledge for the District 4 race against Councilman Nascimento, filed her campaign finances for this period, but her filings have disclosed every contribution, including a $51 donation.
“The pledge was made as voluntary and my understanding is every seated Council Member signed stating they would comply and understood the expectations,” stated Councilwoman Bublak. “Clearly if you pull my 460 form we took the time to name every donor as each one of them deserves recognition and I have nothing to hide.”
Councilman Nascimento’s website has acknowledged him as “champion of campaign reform” and his candidate statement in the Stanislaus County Voter Information Pamphlet references that he “led the effort to bring transparency to the election process by requiring all campaign contribution disclosures to be placed online and to be easily accessible to the public.”
Despite signing a “simple and straightforward” pledge that would enhance transparency, Councilman Nascimento did not disclose all of his contributions.
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