FPPC to level fines against Dalidio’s foes
September 24, 2010
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has determined that the LLC that funded the No on Measure J campaign violated rules in their fight to stop Ernie Dalidio’s proposed San Luis Obispo retail development.
On Oct. 14, at a hearing in Sacramento, the FPPC is planning to level sanctions and penalties against the mysterious Responsible County Development LLC.
“The sanctions are not known at this time, but I imagine the sanctions will include the unraveling of the LLC and the identification of the anonymous donors,” said Ernie Dalidio’s attorney Jim McKiernan. “It has been a three-year battle that was worth waging.”
Dalidio has fought opponents of his proposed 131-acre development on his land in the county bordering the city of San Luis Obispo for 18 years. Plans for the development incorporate retail, workforce housing, an organic garden and a farmers market.
In 2007, McKiernan filed a voter fraud complaint against the No on J Campaign and the top secret LLC which funded the group, with the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s office. The district attorney reviewed the allegations and forwarded the complaint to the FPPC.
Within weeks of the LLC’s formation, in 2006, the LLC began loaning money to the No on J campaign. By the end of the campaign, in Nov. 2007, the LLC had lent a total of $220,944 to battle Dalido, according to the complaint.
However, the complaint contends the money was a donation and not a loan. The principals of the LLC had successfully fought to keep their identities hidden from the public.
California campaign rules require the transparency of donors and contributors.
In early 2008, Dalidio filed a declaration to allow a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit against the LLC and the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association. Dalido’s multimillion-dollar lawsuit claimed that the downtown association and Responsible County Development LLC conspired and implemented unlawful business practices to thwart the proposed development.
U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder in Los Angeles tentatively dismissed Dalidio’s case alleging conspiracy and unlawful business practices, noting Superior Court Judge Roger Picquet’s ruling that overturned a 2006 San Luis Obispo County ballot initiative that approved Dalidio’s project by a 65-35 percent margin.
A state appellate court ruling in 2009 paved the way for Ernie Dalidio’s proposed multi-faceted plan to develop his land and, at the same time, gave him the option of refilling a RICO lawsuit against the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association and the mysterious corporation that opposed his proposal.
“Dalidio plans to explore the revival of the RICO action,” McKiernan said. “I imagine the ramifications will run deep and they will be eye popping.”
Even though the FPPC determined the Downtown Association did not violate campaign rules, critics contend they were conspiring with the LLC and those involved in the battle against Dalidio and are likely to be named in a likely RICO suit.
Meanwhile Dalidio had leased his land under a short term lease to Talley Vineyards.
“It is a win-win situation on a short term basis till all this legal dust settles and the organic vegetable crops pop up,” McKiernan added.