Clovis News

Briggs hit with more fines after Fresno council bid

Former elected official Mike Briggs -- already on the hook to the state's political watchdog agency for $34,000 -- is now facing an additional $9,500 in fines related to his failed Fresno City Council bid last year.

The Fair Political Practices Commission has recommended the fines against Briggs for failing to file a pre-election campaign statement; failing to disclose the street address, occupation and/or employer information for 11 donors who contributed $100 or more; and failing to file a late contribution report by the required deadline.

Briggs' fine is listed as a default decision on the commission's Feb. 10 agenda. That means Briggs "failed to respond to attempts to serve him and chose not to contest the matter," said Roman Porter, the commission's spokesman.

Commissioners can accept the recommended fine, but they also have the power to decrease the amount -- or increase it by up to $4,500, Porter said.

As Briggs faces the possibility of new fines from the state agency, the outstanding $34,000 fine remains unpaid and is now in collections, Porter said.

"We are using all means available to us by law to get Mr. Briggs to pay what is owed to the people of California," he said.

That includes the possibility of seeking a lien on property owned by Briggs, garnishing his wages or keeping any state tax refund he might get, Porter said.

The $34,000 fine was for various campaign violations related to Briggs' unsuccessful 2004 bid for the state Assembly. Those included failing to maintain campaign records and taking contributions before formally declaring his intention to be a candidate.

Briggs didn't return a phone call seeking comment on both the new proposed $9,500 fine and the still-unpaid $34,000 levy. In the past, he has said he doesn't have the $34,000 to pay the older fine.

Commission investigators noted in their paperwork on the proposed Fresno City Council-related fines that Briggs did eventually file some of the required documents or included required information in other filings. But the pre-election campaign statement, for instance, was filed 157 days late.

In evidence supporting the latest fine, investigators note the previous $34,000 fine. Coupled with the latest alleged violations, it shows Briggs has a "reckless disregard" for the state's Political Reform Act, according to commission documents.

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 in 2002 to run for Congress in the 21st Congressional District. Visalia Republican Devin Nunes won the seat.

In 2004, Steve Samuelian -- who succeeded Briggs in the Assembly -- announced he wouldn't seek a second term. Briggs made a late entry into the Republican primary in an effort to win his old seat.

The primary field 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 and was assessed the $34,000 fine.

Last year, Briggs ran again for a seat on the Fresno City Council. He won the District 3 primary election, but lost in the general election to Oliver Baines.