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Fair Political Practices Commission v. Suitt

90 Cal. App. 3d 125 (1979)

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Fair Political Practices Commission v. Suitt

California Court of Appeal

90 Cal. App. 3d 125 (1979)

Facts

Michael O’Key was an employee of the Caucus, an association of members of the California Assembly. O’Key’s salary was paid by the state. In 1976 O’Key was allowed to disregard some of his normal duties to work for the Suitt Committee (the committee) (defendant), a political campaign working for the reelection of Assemblyman Tom Suitt (defendant). O’Key spent at least three days in May and June of 1976 working for the committee, soliciting campaign funds, preparing the budget, and organizing volunteers. O’Key did not receive any payment from Suitt or the committee, instead receiving his full salary from the state. Neither Suitt nor the committee reimbursed the state for work done by O’Key. The California Political Reform Act (the act) required campaigns to make disclosures of contributions made to and distributions made from the campaign. Under the act, contributions included nonmonetary donations such as work done for the campaign for political purposes. If an employer allowed an employee to volunteer his compensated time to the campaign, the campaign had to report the employee’s compensation as if the employer had donated the money to the campaign for the campaign to pay the employee. The committee did not disclose the work O’Key performed for the campaign. The committee reasoned that the work done on campaigns by employees of the Caucus did not have to be disclosed under the act, because all work that the Caucus’s employees did was for political purposes. The Fair Political Practices Commission (plaintiff) filed a lawsuit in state court against Suitt and the committee, asking the court to compel the committee to make its required disclosures related to O’Key’s campaign work. The trial court ruled in favor of the committee. The Fair Political Practices Commission appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Paras, J.)

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