State campaign commission fines two Cupertino groups

Logo from the FPPC Twitter account.

California’s campaign-finance enforcement arm levied large fines on two Cupertino groups Thursday, citing failures on filings and record keeping.

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) agreed to the fines on a unanimous vote during their April hearing, held over Zoom.

At issue were campaign actions in 2016 over redevelopment plans at Vallco Mall in Cupertino. Two groups – Cupertino Residents for Sensible Zoning Action Committee and Committee Supporting Cupertino Citizens’ Sensible Growth Initiative – earned FPPC fines of $6,500 total.

FPPC documents identify three counts of malfeasance, including a failure to file timely campaign statements and two instances of failing to maintain campaign finance records.

The FPPC identified Xiaowen Wang and Xiangchen Xu as the named officers of the groups responsible for paying the fines.

Fines close chapter on Cupertino’s blockbuster 2016 election

Both groups supported ‘Yes on C’ and ‘No on D’ efforts in 2016.

According to the City of Cupertino, Measure C would have “limit[ed] redevelopment of the Vallco Shopping District, limit[ed] building heights along major mixed-use corridors, increase[d] to 45 feet the maximum building height in the Neighborhoods, limit[ed] lot coverages for large projects, establish[ed] new setbacks and building planes on major thoroughfares.”

Measure D would have adopted the Vallco Town Center Specific Plan, with hundreds of residential units – including 20% senior housing, office and commercial space, parklands, a 30-acre green roof, and major funding for local amenities including $30 million for transportation upgrades and $40 million for schools.

Voters denied both measures at the ballot box in 2016.

Cupertino resident J.R. Fruen made the initial complaints in October 2016 to the FPPC, alleging that the two “committees are hiding donors from disclosure by failing to file pre-election reports and soliciting ‘anonymous’ contributions, among other things.” Fruen also claimed financial and donor reporting inconsistencies with the two groups.

The FPPC’s actions Thursday vindicated Fruen’s claims and seem to close another chapter in Cupertino’s storied political history.