SACRAMENTO – The Senate Public Safety Committee has approved a bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, which would impose stiff financial penalties on candidates who lie on ballot statements when seeking political office.
AB 894 would impose a fine of up to $5,000 if a candidate includes knowingly false information on statements they submit for inclusion on election ballots. If an offender is convicted of associated criminal wrongdoing, a formula that multiplies the base fine could result in as much as $20,500 in total financial penalties for those who intentionally lie to voters.
“The penalty for shamelessly lying to voters should be very painful,” Frazier said. “And right now it’s not painful enough. Often, the only information a voter may have about candidates is what is contained in ballot statements, especially in races for local offices that might not get a lot of press coverage. AB 894 creates a strong deterrent to dishonest candidates who falsify their qualifications in an attempt to mislead voters.”
Frazier authored AB 894 after a candidate to represent East County on the Contra Costa County Board of Education in 2014 was found to have blatantly lied about his qualifications, background and criminal record in the candidate statement he submitted for inclusion on the ballot. Instead of a punishment, the candidate received just an entry into a diversion program for offenders. The current fine for intentionally misleading voters on ballot statements is $1,000.
AB 894 has received unanimous bipartisan support in every committee and Floor vote. It has been approved by the Assembly Elections Committee, the full Assembly and the Senate Elections and Public Safety committees without a single “no” vote. The bill’s final vote will be on the Senate Floor after the Legislature returns from recess. If the full Senate approves AB 894, it will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.
Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.