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Conservative blogger files complaint about Republican Travis Allen's spending in campaign for California governor

Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) speaks at a tea party conference in Fresno in August. (Silvia Flores / For The Times)
Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) speaks at a tea party conference in Fresno in August. (Silvia Flores / For The Times)
A screen shot of the website for Assembyman Travis Allen's "Repeal the Gas Tax Ballot Measure Committee." The site initially asked donors to make checks payable to "Travis Allen for Governor 2018." (Los Angeles Times)
A screen shot of the website for Assembyman Travis Allen's "Repeal the Gas Tax Ballot Measure Committee." The site initially asked donors to make checks payable to "Travis Allen for Governor 2018." (Los Angeles Times)

California’s campaign watchdog agency has launched an investigation into a complaint filed against Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach that alleges he misspent funds in his campaign for governor.

The complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission was filed by conservative blogger Aaron Park, who lives east of Sacramento. It is common practice for the agency to launch an investigation whenever it receives a complaint.

In the complaint, Park alleges Allen used donations from an Assembly campaign account to pay for Facebook ads to support his run for governor. Park argued that would be a violation of the state’s Political Reform Act.

Park supports Allen’s Republican rival in the governor’s race, Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox. He believes Allen should drop out, arguing that the assemblyman doesn’t have enough political support or fundraising capability to win.

“I’m a supporter of John Cox and have been very early on,” Park said. “And I don’t know why Travis is running for governor. I really don’t. It just seems really bizarre to me.”

Maryann Marino, spokeswoman for Allen’s gubernatorial campaign, said all of Allen’s spending and expenditures were proper and reported on campaign finance reports filed with the California Secretary of State’s office. Marino said “the FPPC inquiry will not come up with anything.”

FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga acknowledged that the agency received the complaint, but did not address the substance of allegations since the matter is under investigation.

Allen, 43, was first elected to the state Assembly in 2012 and announced his bid for governor in June. He worked as a certified financial planner before he ran for the California Legislature.

Park, in his complaint, also questioned whether a Facebook page that Allen created to support his Assembly campaigns, which he said were promoted in social media ads, could be converted for use by Allen’s gubernatorial campaign.

Additionally, the website run by a committee Allen formed to support his statewide ballot initiative to repeal the recently approved gas tax also appeared to solicit donations for his campaign for governor. 

The initiative’s website, which was paid for by the “Join Travis Allen to Repeal the Gas Tax Ballot Measure Committee,” asked supporters to make their donation checks payable to “Travis Allen for Governor 2018.”  State regulations may bar this since the two are separate and distinct campaigns.

After Marino was contacted by The Times, the initiative website was changed. It now says donation checks should be made payable to "Join Travis Allen to Repeal the Gas Tax Ballot Measure Committee."

Marino said that was due to a technical error and added that very few donations are made by check.

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