Settlement in Election Case Is Expected
A Westminster councilman accused of violating campaign laws during a failed bid in 2000 is expected to settle with the state today, officials said.
Andy Quach, 33, who was elected to the council in 2002 and ran for mayor last year, faces nine counts of violating the Political Reform Act for allegedly accepting cash donations, failing to keep campaign records and failing to disclose donor information. His campaign organization, Andy Quach for City Council, and his then-treasurer, Diemmy Tran, 28, of Garden Grove, face similar charges.
Under the settlement, the $24,000 in fines for Quach and Tran would be reduced to $11,500 because of what the state called Quach’s inexperience regarding record-keeping requirements. Quach also was given incorrect counsel by the city attorney, said Steven Russo, chief of enforcement for the Fair Political Practices Commission, the panel that must approve the settlement.
State officials said Quach accepted cash from 40 people totaling $7,070 from August to November 2000. Campaign laws require that donations of $100 or more be given by check, Russo said.
Quach was accused of failing to disclose contributor information and failing to maintain campaign records. On two occasions, while he was on the city Planning Commission, he failed to disqualify himself from voting on a donor’s housing project, Russo said.
Quach said the problems stemmed from having a nonprofessional staff. Tran, who was a volunteer, handled the accounting that has come into question, he said. Tran could not be reached for comment.
“Diemmy was young, a recent college graduate and not very experienced,” he said. “I don’t know everything either. There’s still stuff I don’t know today.”
State officials said Quach violated laws again in March 2001 when he voted twice on a Bolsa Avenue housing project that belonged to Frank Jao, a major developer of Little Saigon who donated $3,000 to Quach’s 2000 campaign.
A citizen who attended a City Council meeting questioned Quach about his vote. Quach sought advice from the city attorney, who said he could vote on the project. But after the city attorney researched further, he determined that Quach should have abstained from voting since he received contributions from Jao in the previous 12 months.
Quach’s actions were “clearly inadvertent, and he relied upon legal advice,” said Westminster City Atty. Richard Jones. “He corrected the situation, and we made sure the project was ... approved by the City Council. He acted in good faith.”
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