Former officials file complaint against PAC

Two former mayors from Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley have filed complaints with the state against Newport Beach-based Atlas PAC — the committee responsible for sending three mailers that attack former Huntington Beach Mayor and council candidate Jill Hardy.

The complaints to the sate Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) allege that the group failed to disclose its funding sources when sending out attack ads on Hardy.

The FPPC, which monitors campaign spending, received a complaint Tuesday, said the commission's chief of enforcement, Gary Winuk.

"We're looking into it, and we'll make a decision within 14 days on whether or not to open an investigation," he said.

Former Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook filed a sworn complaint, claiming the Libertarian-leaning Atlas failed to disclose its donors and has not listed the expenditures for two of the three mailers about Hardy.

Former Fountain Valley Mayor Gus Ayer has also complained to the FPPC via email.

"Atlas PAC and their treasurer are currently engaging in a conspiracy to refuse to disclose the funding source of a series of three vile and dishonest hit pieces against City Council candidate Jill Hardy," Ayer said in the complaint sent to Winuk.

Atlas filed expenditures for the first mailer it sent about Hardy but failed to do so for the two others, Cook said.

Atlas has listed expenditures on other mailer campaigns but did not for some of the Hardy materials, which shows it may be trying to hide something, she alleged.

"It always does come down to money," Cook said. "This has nothing to do with whether Jill can be trusted around children or not. She has nothing to be ashamed of."

Attempts to reach Atlas' Newport Beach chairman, Lee Lowrey, were not successful. Lowrey's voicemail was full, and Atlas' listed phone line on its website wasn't available.

When contacted, Atlas Treasurer David Bauer said the omission was a human error and that he was going to correct it right away. He added that he was only aware of one Hardy mailer sent by Atlas.

The PAC has outraged many Huntington Beach residents with mailers accusing Hardy of endangering a child while working as a teacher at Huntington Beach High School, leading her to resign her post, and favoring her brother, whom Atlas claims is a sex offender, over children when she voted against Jessica's Law while serving on the council.

The Huntington Beach Independent checked the claims in the flier and found Hardy's brother is not a registered sex offender but was convicted of having consensual oral sex with a 17-year-old female college student he dated when he was 26, Hardy has said. Court records confirm her statement.

Atlas' mailers accuse Hardy of endangering a high school student while on a school trip to Russia by leaving him alone on a bus while he was sick with the flu.

But Hardy said the student, who was 18 at the time, was taken care of by a male advisor, which was in compliance with the school district's policy. Hardy, who teaches math and social studies at Marina High School, was not forced to resign and remains employed within the district.

Twitter: @MonaShadia

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