SLO developer fined by state ethics watchdog
April 28, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A San Luis Obispo County developer has drawn a fine from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for not identifying himself as a major donor to the election campaign of County Supervisor Caren Ray.
The FPPC voted during its meeting last week to fine Gary Grossman $400 for failing to properly disclose political contributions totaling more than $10,000 last year. Grossman is working to develop the San Luis Obispo County property formerly owned by rancher Ernie Dalidio.
Anyone who donates more than $10,000 total to election campaigns in a single year is required by California to form a major donor committee. The donor must file a disclosure with a county clerk reporting the committee and its contributions.
Grossman donated $10,000 to Ray’s election campaign on Nov. 11, 2013. He also made a $3,686 nonmonetary donation to Ray when he hosted a fundraiser for her later that month.
Additionally, Grossman donated $1,000 to Supervisor Adam Hill’s election committee in 2013. Hill is not yet up for reelection, but he kept his 2012 committee open during 2013 and accepted a $1,000 donation from Grossman on Sept. 26.
State regulations required Grossman to report all three donations on a major donor form by Jan. 31 of this year. But, Grossman waited until March 21 to properly disclose the donations to Ray. He then amended the donation report on April 1 to include his contribution to Hill.
Grossman had the opportunity to contest the fine at an FPPC meeting on Thursday. He did not make an appearance, though, and the committee voted 4-0 to fine him.
Grossman is currently planning a residential and commercial project on the 131-acre property that sets on Highway 101 near Madonna Road. Grossman’s plan, known as the San Luis Ranch, would include 46 acres of housing, a hotel, a convention center and commercial office space.
After Dalidio fought for years and failed to gain approval to develop the property, Grossman appears to have support for his project from both from the county and city of San Luis Obispo.
Grossman’s assistant, Monte Cool, also donated to Ray’s campaign. Cool, the chief of acquisitions for Grossman’s Coastal Community Builders, contributed $5,000 to Ray.
In a recent candidate’s forum, Ray criticized one of her opponents, Lynn Compton, for accepting big money donations. But, between just Grossman and Cool, Ray accepted nearly $20,000 in contributions.
Ray also received a $10,000 contribution from Andy Mangano, a developer with Mangano homes. Mangano did file a major donor disclosure before the reporting deadline.