Chan Charges Hancock With Illegal Use of Officeholder Funds

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday April 08, 2008

Former 16th District Assemblymember Wilma Chan has filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against 14th District Assemblymember Loni Hancock—Chan’s opponent in the race to succeed termed-out 9th District State Senator Don Perata—charging that Hancock has illegally used her assemblymember officeholder account to pay a campaign staff member. 

The Hancock campaign denies the charge. 

In their FPPC complaint, the Chan campaign says that Hancock for Senate 2008 Campaign Manager Terri Waller was paid some $15,000 for campaign work from the officeholder account between June of 2007 and March 14 of this year. Until she became Hancock’s campaign manager on the first of March of this year, Waller worked as a district director in Hancock’s 14th Assembly District office. 

California law has established officeholder accounts to pay for an officeholder’s political activities during their time in office, but not for specific campaign expenses, which are paid for by a separate campaign account. The officeholder accounts are donor-financed, and are regularly reported to the California Secretary of State, with contributions and expenditures posted on the Secretary of State’s website. 

Chan’s complaint says that Hancock compensated Waller from the officeholder account for “campaign consultant services,” and that Waller accompanied Hancock to four Senate endorsement interviews between December 2007 and February of this year. 

The complaint also says that Waller “introduced herself as the campaign manager during at least one Senate endorsement interview,” but does not give the date of that interview. 

Cliff Staton, a consultant with the Hancock campaign, says “there is no truth” to the allegations.  

Staton said that any work done by Waller prior to the first of March was in her capacity of district director and not as campaign manager. He also said that Waller was paid from Hancock’s officeholder account in March, but the payment was for activities Waller conducted for Hancock’s assembly office in February, before Waller became senate campaign manager in March.