Zimmer campaign finance questions referred to Attorney General’s Office

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Last week 17 News told you a state watchdog is investigating whether District Attorney-elect Cynthia Zimmer violated campaign finance laws in the June 5th DA election.

17 News has learned the Attorney General’s Office is now also involved in this story.

A source with knowledge of the situation confirms to 17 News a Measure K complaint was filed with the Kern County District Attorney’s Office on July 6th against Zimmer. 

What does that mean?

Measure K is Kern campaign finance law. 

If agreed to by the candidates, Measure K imposes a limit on how much money one can spend in a campaign.

Zimmer and her then opponent Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman both agreed to a $200,000 spending limit.

But in the run up to the election, Spielman said Zimmer was getting around that limit by illegally coordinating with outside groups to inject over $30,000 extra of ads into the race. 

While the campaigns are bound by limits, some outside independent expenditure groups are not. 

So how does Measure K enforcement work?

According to the law, in order to hold potential violators accountable, a written complaint must be filed with the DA’s office first to “investigate the propriety of commencing a criminal proceeding.”

And 17 News learned such a complaint has been lodged with the DA’s office against the department’s incoming leader, Zimmer.

The DA’s office would not comment on the complaint or confirm if it has received one, but instead referred all of our questions about Zimmer and campaign finance allegations to the California Attorney General’s Office.

The AG’s office responded simply, “to protect its integrity, we can’t comment on, even to confirm or deny, a potential or ongoing investigation.”

We reached out to DA-elect Zimmer about the allegations and the Attorney General’s involvement.

Her campaign manager John Peschong from Meridian Pacific consulting got back to 17 News, saying it is not unusual for a complaint like this to be referred to the Attorney General’s office. 

He added the complaint has no merit whatsoever saying the campaign complied fully with Measure K and actually spent less than the $200,000 limit.

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