Sheriff candidate fails to file finance papers

04/24/2014 9:39 PM

04/24/2014 9:45 PM

A candidate for Merced County sheriff failed to file any campaign finance disclosure paperwork by the March 24 deadline, the Merced County Elections Department confirmed.

As of Thursday, Jim Soria still had not filed any of the required financial disclosure paperwork, according to Barbara Levey, registrar of voters.

According to Soria, he has been raising money and accepting donations since declaring his candidacy in January. Soria said that as of Thursday, he had raised “about $2,000.”

Soria said he wasn’t aware the necessary paperwork hadn’t been filed until he was contacted Thursday by the Sun-Star.

“I’ll have to check with my campaign manager,” Soria said. “I’m not sure. I’ll have to check. I’ll make sure that gets taken care of.”

Soria’s opponents for sheriff, Pat Lunney, Frank Swiggart and Vern Warnke, have filed all the required paperwork and “are up to date,” Levey said.

The first financial reporting period for the sheriff’s race covered Jan. 10 to March 17. Disclosure documents show how much a candidate has raised and spent on the campaign.

Lunney led all candidates in fundraising for the first three months of the campaign, raising a total of $28,115 in financial and nonmonetary contributions. His campaign spent $15,189.75 during that time, documents show.

Swiggart raised the second highest total, $21,075. He spent $16,146.65, records show.

Warnke raised $11,433 and spent $6,922.30, according to disclosure documents.

Jay Wierenga, a spokesman for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, declined to comment directly on Soria’s campaign, but said that generally candidates for elected office are legally required to disclose campaign finances.

“Generally speaking, obviously candidates have to file the appropriate disclosure and reports on time, in full and as accurate as possible,” Wierenga said. “Failure to do so can lead to warnings or fines. Each case is different, based on the facts.”

“Filing disclosure statements and reports late denies voters and the general public of important information that should be current and readily available,” the California secretary of state’s website says.

As of Thursday, Soria had filed only the paperwork necessary to get his name on the June ballot, according to the county elections office.

The next financial disclosure deadline is May 22.

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