County Supt. of Schools Robert Peterson on Thursday accused one of his opponents, John F. Dean, of illegally accepting a $20,000 loan from his parents.
Dean, 63, a Whittier College professor, accepted the loan from his father, James H. Dean of Cucamonga, on April 24, according to campaign financial disclosure forms released by Peterson at a press conference in the Santa Ana Hall of Administration.
The loan was $19,000 above the legal limit of $1,000 per fiscal year on campaign contributions from individuals, corporations and partnerships under Proposition 73.
"We have a candidate here that hasn't complied with the law and far exceeded what the limits are," said Peterson, 69, who is seeking an unprecedented seventh four-year term in Tuesday's election.
Peterson said that officials of his reelection campaign committee have notified the state Fair Political Practices Commission of the alleged violation, but added that he does not expect the commission to rule on Dean's finances in time for the election.
Dean, reached at his Newport Beach home, said that members of his campaign committee found the law to be unclear on contributions from relatives and accepted the loan. But when told of the FPPC's general conclusions on loans to campaign committees, Dean conceded that "it was a loan I should not have accepted."
"We checked with a couple of people who ought to know (about the finance laws) and they didn't know," Dean said. "We didn't give it a second thought. If have to turn around and return the check, I will."
FPPC spokeswoman Sandra Michioku would not comment on Peterson's allegation, but said that Proposition 73 limits contributions to campaign committees from all sources except from a candidate's personal funds.
"All other contributions, and all other contributions include loans, would be subject to Proposition 73 restrictions," Michioku said.
Dean said he was unsure if any of the $20,000 loan had been used to finance campaign-related activities. His campaign treasurer, Ann L. Krueger, could not be reached for comment.
Peterson also charged that Dean surpassed campaign finance limits by $500 in accepting $1,500 worth of bumper stickers from Weber Nameplate, a Santa Ana firm. Dean, however, said a clerk typed in an incorrect figure and that an amended disclosure form will show that less than $1,000 in bumper stickers was donated. Henry Weber, president of Weber Nameplate, was not available to confirm Dean's account.
Dean said he does not believe the allegations will harm his effort to unseat Peterson. "I think people will be accepting of a mistake like this," he said. "There's more at stake in this election than a mistake of this kind."