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Burbank advocacy group not considered a campaign committee, state officials say

The California Fair Political Practices Commission, or FPPC, recently determined that a resident group that was in opposition of Measure B, which paved the way for a new terminal at Hollywood Burbank Airport, did not qualify as a campaign committee during the November 2016 election.

Dave Bainbridge, assistant chief of enforcement for the state agency, wrote in a letter dated Nov. 27 to Burbank resident Roy Wiegand, one of the members of Save Burbank Neighborhoods, that there was not enough evidence to support a claim that the group received $2,000 or more in campaign contributions during a calendar year, which would have required the group to register with the FPPC as a campaign committee.

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Under the Political Reform Act, campaign committees are required to file with the FPPC and display their identification number on all campaign materials distributed to the public.

“Our investigation revealed insufficient evidence to conclude the group received contributions in excess of $2,000,” Bainbridge said. “As such, we are closing the case with no further action.”

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Wiegand said in an email that he was pleased that he and the other neighbors involved in the case were exonerated, adding that they had nothing to hide and did nothing wrong.

“It did sadden me that a grassroots group of citizens were called into question while simply trying to get the other side of an issue out to the voting public,” Wiegand said.

Voter approval of Measure B allows the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, which oversees Hollywood Burbank Airport, to build a replacement 14-gate terminal.

Wiegand and some other residents were against Measure B because they thought they would lose their right to vote on the issue and the authority would build more than the proposed 14 gates.

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The complaint was filed by Tai Sunnanon, a consultant who worked on the Yes on Measure B campaign, on Nov. 2, six days before the general election on Nov. 8.

Sunnanon is the founder and president of the consulting firm the si3 Group. He could not be reached for a comment.

This is not the only complaint filed with the FPPC regarding Measure B.

In December 2016, Burbank resident David Spell filed a complaint with the state agency, alleging the marketing organization for the city, called the Burbank Hospitality Assn., better known as Visit Burbank, illegally donated $50,000 to the Committee for Yes on Measure B so the group could pay for campaign mailers.

The money was given to the committee after a member of the group had approached the association during a meeting on Sept. 14, 2016, and asked for the $50,000 donation. Association members approved the donation that day, even though it was not agendized, which is required according to Brown Act regulations.

A similar complaint was filed with the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, and this past May, the county agency determined that Visit Burbank had violated the Brown Act. However, the district attorney’s office is still investigating whether the $50,000 donation was a misuse of public funds.

The Fair Political Practices Commission is still investigating Spell’s complaint.

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