SACRAMENTO — In a tentative accord with the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Norwalk City Councilman Marcial (Rod) Rodriguez has acknowledged that he failed to properly label his campaign as the source of a controversial 1986 election mailer and has agreed to pay a fine of $1,000.
The commission on Wednesday is scheduled to adopt the proposed settlement with Rodriguez, who signed the agreement on Aug. 17.
In an interview last week, Rodriguez minimized the violation, saying, "It's like doing 70 miles per hour in a 50-mile-an-hour zone. And you get caught, you get cited . . . and you pay the doggone thing. So, we screwed up. We didn't have a professional staff to oversee that."
According to documents released last week by the commission, Rodriguez "acknowledges that he was aware of the identification provisions (of the law) . . . and that he had sent previous mailers which conformed with these requirements."
The commission staff noted, however, that Rodriguez "admits . . . that he failed to ensure that the . . . mailer conformed with his statutory obligations."
At issue is a letter mailed on Jan. 27, 1986, by Rodriguez to more than 7,000 homes in Norwalk during a heated City Council election.
Under the state Political Reform Act, candidates and their election committees are required to identify themselves in mass mailings. The name of the person who controls the election committee also must be part of the identification.
According to commission documents, Rodriguez and his committee admit that they mailed the letter. But, the commission staff noted that the outside of the envelopes failed to name Rodriguez as controlling the campaign and did not indicate his reelection committee mailed the letter.
Instead, the exterior of the letter stated "Important! Voter Information Enclosed" and provided "Office of the Mayor, Norwalk, Ca. 90650" as the only identification for the sender.
Inside was a letter bearing a photo of then-Mayor Rodriguez sitting in front of an American flag. It informed readers that Rodriguez was running for reelection in the April 8, 1986, election.
Grace Musquiz Napolitano, a candidate who won a seat on the council, objected to the mailing.
In addition to serving on the council, Rodriguez is an aide to state Sen. Cecil Green (D-Norwalk), a former council colleague. Rodriguez has been regarded as a potential Democratic candidate next year for the 63rd District Assembly seat now held by Wayne Grisham (R-Norwalk). But last week, citing a busy schedule, Rodriguez said he has no plans to enter the contest.