The state's political watchdog agency has recommended a $34,000 fine against Fresno Republican Mike Briggs for campaign violations related to his unsuccessful 2004 bid for the state Assembly.
Briggs, a former two-term Assembly member, said he is correcting the violations and hopes that the state Fair Political Practices Commission will reduce or eliminate the fine at its Dec. 10 meeting.
That is unlikely. Roman Porter, executive director of the Fair Political Practices Commission, said the agency has asked Briggs many times -- all without success -- to correct the violations. Porter said Briggs never responded. Briggs said he talked to the commission "many, many times."
If the fine is approved by the commission, Briggs and Sharron Nisbett, his campaign treasurer, will be liable. Briggs, a real estate broker, said he doesn't have the money to pay the fine, and his campaign account -- which legally can be used to pay commission fines -- is empty. Nisbett could not be reached to comment.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The agency, Porter said, "will use all collection resources at its disposal to collect the debt."
The commission's Dec. 10 agenda outlines 13 violations by the Briggs campaign. Among them are failing to maintain campaign records, taking contributions before formally declaring his intention to be a candidate, failing to disclose contributor information in campaign statements and failing to file both a paper and an electronic report within 24 hours of receiving late contributions.
"I've given them everything now," said Briggs, who also served on the Fresno City Council in the 1990s and is considering a new run for council.
Briggs acknowledged making mistakes, but called it "oversight stuff," not serious violations.
"I take responsibility. I ran for office. I wasn't elected. I dropped out. I should have completed all the paperwork, and I didn't," Briggs said.
Briggs said he hired an attorney and has supplied the commission updated and missing information.
Briggs served a single term on the Fresno City Council before moving to Clovis and winning the 29th Assembly District seat. He served two terms before stepping down to run for Congress in the 21st Congressional District. Visalia Republican Devin Nunes won the seat.
In 2004, Steve Samuelian -- who succeeded Briggs -- announced he would not seek a second term. Briggs made a late entry into the Republican primary, which already included businessman Mike Villines and former Fresno City Council Member Chris Mathys. Villines won.
That is the race in which Briggs violated campaign law, according to the commission.
Briggs' fine is different from the one being levied against the Fresno County Republican Central Committee, which has agreed to a $29,000 fine for a series of campaign transactions with San Diego County Assembly Member Joel Anderson that violated state election law.
That fine is the result of an agreement between the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Fresno County GOP. In Briggs' case, Porter said, he had a number of opportunities to contest the charges. He never did.
After Briggs failed to address the matter, Porter said, the agency moved to impose the $34,000 fine.