HUNTINGTON PARK — The city clerk has levied a $940 fine against recently elected Councilman Luis Hernandez for submitting a campaign disclosure statement more than three months after it was due.
Hernandez also faces more fines because he failed to meet the deadline for filing a second disclosure statement, and has yet to submit statements for a campaign he organized to defeat a proposed utility tax last year.
City Clerk Marilyn Boyette said it was the first time that she had fined an incumbent for missing a filing deadline. "If you respect the laws and go by what is laid out, you should realize those are important procedures that need to be followed," Boyette said. The campaign disclosure statements are designed to reveal who is backing a candidate.
In addition, the California Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating Hernandez, commission spokeswoman Sandra Michioku acknowledged. She declined to reveal further details, but Hernandez said the agency is reviewing his campaign records and supporting material, such as receipts.
"Once everything is sorted and reviewed, I think everything will work out favorably," Hernandez said.
He also was six days late in filing a statement of economic interests, which discloses an officeholder's real estate and business holdings so the public will know of any potential conflicts of interest when a councilman votes on city business. The statement was due 30 days after he took office April 17.
Hernandez said last week he will turn in the outstanding campaign disclosure statements and pay whatever fines are levied. "I'm working on them now," Hernandez said. "I should have all of them completed very soon."
Hernandez said he did not turn in the statements before the April 10 election because he feared retaliation against supporters who operate businesses or have other dealings in Huntington Park.
Hernandez had alienated council members with sharp attacks in the months before the election. Councilmen Thomas E. Jackson and Jack W. Parks strongly supported long-term incumbents William P. Cunningham and Jim Roberts. Councilman Herbert A. Hennes retired for personal reasons.
Hernandez turned in his first statement June 4--94 days after the March 1 deadline--which drew a fine of $10 per day from the clerk. A second disclosure statement, which has not been filed, was due March 29.
Asked why he did not turn in the statements immediately after the election, Hernandez said he has been extremely busy as a rookie councilman. "The newness of the position has kind of sidetracked me a bit," Hernandez said. "We're not hiding anything. It's coming out."
Hernandez's first campaign disclosure statement contained no surprises. The statement covered Jan. 1 to Feb. 26, a period in which fund-raising is traditionally light. The statement showed $7,150 in contributions from businessmen and residents in Huntington Park, Walnut Park, Bell and Los Angeles.
Hernandez has said he spent about $30,000 in the campaign.
He said he is still trying to gather receipts from his successful campaign to defeat a proposed 7% utility tax in September. He said some of the receipts and records from that campaign were ruined when his house was flooded after a water pipe broke.
"I must procure all the information from the bank (that held the campaign account)," Hernandez said.
Hernandez was one of five candidates vying for three City Council seats in the April 10 election. Raul Perez received the most votes to win his first term in office. Cunningham finished second. Hernandez received 27 more votes than incumbent Councilman Roberts to win the third seat.