A local resident has filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission and the Orange County District Attorney’s office, claiming two City Council candidates have improperly created a political action committee.
Edmond Connor, a lawyer with an Irvine-based legal firm, filed the complaint Friday. In it, he alleges that the Capistrano Common Sense newsletter, online and delivered monthly to as many as 10,000 homes in San Juan Capistrano, is acting as a political action committee, or PAC, for candidates Kim McCarthy and Roy Byrnes, both of whom have long been involved with the newsletter.
Connor also alleges that a related website, known as Capistrano Common Sense Solutions, which promotes Byrnes’ and McCarthy’s candidacies, is also a PAC but has failed to register as a recipient committee to receive political donations.
McCarthy called the concerns “laughable.” She later issued a press release calling Connor's actions a “bullying tactic” done on behalf of council candidates Sam Allevato and Ginny Kerr.
With regards to the newsletter, McCarthy said: “To me it smells of censorship, and people in this town have been trying to censor us since we started publishing Capistrano Common Sense.”
Connor’s letter claims the newsletter is acting as a PAC because it published a letter in which Byrnes calls for incumbent (and campaign opponent) Sam Allevato and Councilwoman Laura Freese to step down.
(For the record, Patch also published this letter.)
“The tone, tenor, and content of CCS’s newsletters establish “clear advocacy” thus qualifying CCS as a political committee,” Connor writes in his complaint.
McCarthy said Connor has never asked for a letter to be published in Common Sense. She said the editorial board welcomes letters from the entire community.
“We’re not a committee,” she said.
As for the Capistrano Common Sense Solutions site that solicits donations for Byrnes and herself, she said that’s just a way to share the costs of running a website.
The Orange County District Attorney's office has received a copy of the complaint, confirmed spokeswoman Farrah Emami.
"We're now reviewing it," she said.