Anti-Marijuana Group Facing Thousands of Dollars in Fines for Campaign Violations

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Anti-Marijuana Group Facing Thousands of Dollars in Fines for Campaign Violations

A national anti-marijuana group is facing thousands of dollars in fines for violations they made while working to oppose California’s Proposition 64.

SAM Action Inc. has agreed to the $6,000 in fines proposed by enforcement staff for the California Fair Political Practices Commission for violations they made during their campaign to oppose the marijuana legalization initiative Pop 64, which was handily approved by voters. SAM Action Inc. is associated with Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), one of the largest anti-marijuana groups in the U.S.; the group is headed by Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to President Obama.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the violations included “not changing the campaign committee’s name to include its major donor, Juliet Schauer, a retired art professor and Pennsylvania activist who contributed $1.36 million to the group to cover expenses in California and other states considering marijuana legalization. The committee also “was late in disclosing five Schauer contributions, failed to accurately report the total amount of contributions and failed to file a list of its top 10 contributors, as required by the state Political Reform Act.”

“A central purpose of the Act is to ensure receipts and expenditures in election campaigns are fully and truthfully disclosed,” wrote Galena West, chief of enforcement for the commission, in a report on the violations. “In this case, the Committee failed to timely and accurately disclose contributions received and the Schauer Trust’s involvement as a major donor to the Committee.”

According Sabet, the violations were “inadvertent,” caused by “inexperience with California campaign reporting requirements”.

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The California Fair Political Practices Commission plans to meet on April 20 to consider giving final approval to the fines recommended by its enforcement staff

According to the Times; “Another $3,500 in fines are proposed against a campaign committee called Public and Mental Health Advocates Against 64, which was sponsored by and received major funding from SAM Action, Inc. The enforcement staff alleges that the campaign committee did not identify in its advertising special interests that contributed more than $50,000.”

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