Former OID member refused to take part in FPPC investigation. It's going to cost him

Al Bairos
Al Bairos

State election law enforcers recommend a $16,000 penalty against former Oakdale Irrigation District board member Al Bairos for violating campaign finance requirements and failing to cooperate with investigators.

In his 2015 re-election bid, Bairos failed to report money spent by others, including his wife, on campaign signs, and failed to print on a mailer who paid for it, according to a California Fair Political Practices Commission investigation.

Bairos, who had served nine years on the OID board, lost by more than 20 percentage points to Linda Santos. Bairos did not respond Tuesday to telephone and email messages from The Modesto Bee.

Three months before the 2015 election, Bairos filed a form stating he did not anticipate raising or spending $1,000 on his campaign. A month later, he hired a company to produce campaign signs costing $1,799, covered by $800 from himself, $249 from his wife and $750 from Oakdale grower John Brichetto, according to commission documents.

A few days before the election, Bairos officially formed a committee, as required by law when a campaign exceeds $1,000, and he disclosed having raised $4,700 and having spent nearly that amount. But he didn't disclose the contributions from his wife or Brichetto and said nothing about the signs, commission documents say.

Most of the money went to mailers costing $3,574, which omitted who paid for them and the name and address of his committee, as required by law, documents say. Bairos's committee also failed to file finance forms for that and subsequent reporting periods, and did little to cooperate with commission investigators trying to get him to file delinquent reports, documents say.

"This shows a lack of good faith and makes it difficult to determine if the violations were deliberate, negligent or inadvertent," enforcers concluded. Their recommendation for a $16,000 penalty will go before the full commission for a formal vote at its June 21 meeting in Sacramento.

Santos had campaigned on a pledge for more transparency. She survived a subsequent recall attempt last year when 54 percent of voters in Division 4 southeast of Oakdale agreed to keep her in office.

Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390