The state's political watchdog is filing a lawsuit today in Sacramento Superior Court seeking the identity of the funders behind a campaign to force a vote on the city's arena subsidy.
The Fair Political Practices Commission plans to file the injunction this afternoon against Los Angeles law firm Loeb & Loeb, charging the firm has "failed and refused" to report the source of the money.
Loeb & Loeb paid Tulare-based political consultant Olson Campaigns $80,000 on June 21 to pay for signature gatherers collecting petitions for a proposed ballot measure that would require voter approval of subsidies for sports facilities in the city, according to a the FPPC complaint.
The law firm would have been required to report the expenditure to Olson and the original source of the $80,000 payment by the end of July because the payment had been made in June, before the end of the most recent campaign disclosure period. The funding has not been reported to state elections officials, leading to an ongoing inquiry by the FPPC.
The FPPC said in its complaint that Loeb & Loeb's "wrongful conduct will cause great and irreparable harm to the voters of Sacramento by denying them information regarding the source of money spent to collect signatures in support of the effort to place the arena financing on the ballot."
"The information regarding the source of the $80,000 payment to Olson may be highly relevant to a citizen's decision whether or not to sign the petition supporting the initiative effort," the complaint reads.
Loeb & Loeb represented the Maloofs when the family reached a deal to sell the Sacramento Kings to a group in Seattle. The Maloofs have denied any involvement in the signature campaign.
Olson Campaigns and Sacramento political consultant Tab Berg both announced last week that they were severing ties with the signature campaign. The FPPC complaint said that Berg was paid $9,000 by Loeb & Loeb on July 18.
In its lawsuit, the FPPC asks the court to impose fines potentially totaling the amount of unreported contributions, plus a penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation of elections law. The lawsuit also asks the court to force disclosure of the contributors.
While the paid signature effort has apparently been put on hold, a separate volunteer effort to collect petitions is continuing. The group behind that campaign - Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) - announced Wednesday it was more than halfway to the 22,000 signatures it needs to qualify the measure for the ballot, a number that includes signatures collected by the paid workers.