Former City Councilman Richard Vineyard has paid $8,000 in fines levied by the state Fair Political Practices Commission for four campaign violations last year during his unsuccessful bid for a council seat.
The commission said in a statement last week that Vineyard was being fined for failing to identify himself as the source of two campaign mailers during the bitter election, in which he finished third in the race for two council seats.
Councilwoman Kathleen Navejas emerged as the top vote-getter, and Councilman Domenic Ruggeri captured the second seat by a three-vote margin over Vineyard, who had lost his council seat in the 1988 election.
One mailer featured the face of Navejas superimposed on a scantily clad female body, and accused the councilwoman of promoting sex and gambling in the city. The commission's statement said the agency took no action on the content of the mailer.
A statement printed on the mailer said it was prepared and sent by The Committee to Defeat the Reelection of Kathleen Navejas. The FPPC said there was no such committee, and that Vineyard was the source of the "hit" piece.
In addition, Vineyard paid the costs of the mailer in cash, when under state law, any campaign expenditure over $100 must be made by check. He also failed to report expenditures for the mailer on the campaign spending statement as required by state law.
The FPPC said Vineyard also failed to disclose that he had prepared and paid for a second campaign mailer, which featured an endorsement of Vineyard by Councilwoman Rosalie Sher. Sher did endorse Vineyard.
In agreeing to pay the maximum fine of $2,000 for each violation, Vineyard avoided having to go through a public hearing before the commission. He declined to comment on the outcome of the FPPC investigation or on the campaign mailings that sparked it. His wife, Maggie, who is a former councilwoman, said her husband had done nothing wrong, but agreed to pay the fines to avoid more lengthy proceedings. Navejas could not be reached for comment.
At one point, according to the FPPC, Maggie Vineyard tried to persuade a political ally, Joe Cabrera, to tell the commission that he was responsible for the mailers.
Cabrera said last week that he agreed at first, but recanted when commission investigators told him they had evidence showing that Maggie Vineyard had taken the mailers to the printer. Maggie Vineyard acknowledged Thursday that she carried the mailers to the printer but said she was acting on behalf of another individual, whom she declined to identify.