Wednesday, March 8, 2017 – 4:56 p.m.
Let’s play a game: Savvy Businessman or Illiterate Politician.
The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is slated to levy a $6,000 fine on San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood at the March 16th hearing after he failed to report numerous sources of income.
Elected officials are required to declare sources of income so as to ensure transparency and accountability.
The FPPC determined that there were twenty separate instances where Lovingood failed to identify income sources from which his companies earned more than $10,000 in gross income from other government agencies in his district.
You can read the findings, facts and violations discovered during the course of the FPPC investigation in their stipulation filing located here. So far, three papers have covered the story (The Sun, Daily Press, and LA Times).
In the report, Lovingood maintains that it was merely a simple mistake on his interpretation of the meaning of the term “gross income.”
Now, Lovingood isn’t Suzy Homemaker running for school board here. Lovingood is a politician that has relentlessly touted his business acumen, experience, and expertise as reasons why the voters should elected him to office.
Are we really to believe that this savvy businessman doesn’t know what is meant by the term “gross income”?
Now, if you are one of those gullible people who is willing to give Lovingood the benefit of the doubt on this, I would like to draw your attention to the actual Form 700 Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form that all elected officials must submit to authorities.
Every SEI form includes instructions and guidance as to how to correctly fill out each individual section of these forms. The instructions read as follows with the bolded words included in the original document:
“Check the box indicating your pro rata share of the gross income received by the business entity or trust. This amount includes your pro rata share of the gross income from the business entity or trust, as well as your community property interest in your spouse’s or registered domestic partner’s share. Gross income is the total amount of income before deducting expenses, losses, or taxes.”
Not only does the form bold the words “gross” it goes on to clearly define the meaning of the term “gross income.”
Either Mr. Lovingood read the instructions and decided to willfully disobey them or he willfully chose to not read the directions. Or maybe he is illiterate.
The stipulation filing states that Lovingood contends that he acted in good-faith to comply with the law.
The FPPC offers a free advice hotline where you can call and talk to a real human being to ask them questions and get answers. Did he call them to ask them what they meant by the term “gross income”? Nope.
Did he submit a request in writing to the FPPC for clarification? Nope.
Did he ask County Counsel for assistance? Nope.
Did he ask any of his fellow colleagues on the board who have had to fill out the same form numerous times? Nope.
On what possible rationale can Mr. Lovingood suggest that he attempted to comply in good faith with the Act?
I mean, really. How dumb do we have to be to believe this bullshit story about not knowing the difference between “gross income vs net income”?
If Supervisor Lovingood is incapable of reading simple directions on a campaign finance form, how on Earth should the voters have any confidence in his abilities to handle his duties as an elected official, never mind being the Chairman of the Board?
So, what is your vote: Savvy Businessman or Illiterate Politician?
The correct answer is: Savvy Politician.
How else do you explain taking in more than a million dollars in government contracts from agencies where you have an inherent conflict of interest and only getting a $6,000 slap on the wrist years later AND a few months after being re-elected? Oh…and he can pay that fine out of his campaign account.
Isn’t that wonderful!
If you are fed up with corrupt politicians abusing their power and getting slapped on the wrist, if at all, I would invite you to email the FPPC asking them to pull his item from the March 16 consent calendar.
Tell them that they should feel insulted by his unbelievable excuse and that the weak punishment of $6,000 does not serve as an appropriate deterrent for future politicians thinking about playing fast and loose with the law.
Please send email correspondence to: CommAsst@fppc.ca.gov and reference: In the Matter of Robert Lovingood; FPPC No. 14/1149