State audit finds Hill skirting campaign finance law

July 11, 2014
Adam Hill

Adam Hill


An audit conducted by the California Franchise Tax Board has revealed that San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill failed to properly disclose nearly $70,000 in campaign expenditures during his most recent run for office.

The California Political Reform Act, passed by voters in 1974, requires the Franchise Tax Board to audit state and local campaigns to determine whether they maintain compliance with elections regulations. The Franchise Tax Board audits different areas in each election cycle, and it recently completed an audit of the 2012 San Luis Obispo County supervisorial campaigns.

In an April 30 report, a tax board auditor wrote that the campaigns of Frank Meacham, Ed Waage, Debbie Arnold and Jim Patterson prepared financial statements that were substantially accurate and complete. But, the report stated that Hill did not disclose $68,059 in payments that firms made on his behalf.

State law requires candidates to disclose payments of $500 or more made by agents or contractors on behalf of political campaigns. For instance, if a candidate pays an advertising agency to purchase radio and television commercials, the campaign must disclose how the agency spends the money.

In May 2012, Hill reported making payments totaling $60,220 to an advertising and public relations firm to use for television and radio advertising. He did not disclose, though, what advertising the firm purchased on his behalf.

The tax board did not indicate that Hill faces any penalty for the violation. The April 30 report states that the tax board contacted Hill’s treasurer, Sharon McMahan, and she said she would try to report sub-vendor information correctly in the future.

Earlier this year, another state agency also notified Hill that he had violated a campaign finance regulation. In March, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) issued a warning letter to Hill for misstating the occupation of developer Gary Grossman.

Last year, Grossman donated $1,000 to Hill in the same week that the supervisor attended a groundbreaking for one of Grossman’s Pismo Beach developments. But, Hill listed Grossman, the president of Coastal Community Builders, as retired on a campaign financial statement.

Mike Byrd

Adam and I are certainly not part of any mutual admiration society but in fairness I will say that mistakes like these are inevitable given the complexity of the reporting rules. One would think it should be pretty simple to report where the money comes from and where it goes but it ain’t so. I’d rather try to prepare my own tax returns than these reports. I ultimately decided to be my own treasurer due to the legal liability to which the treasurer is subject. I’m not reading anything more into this than a simple mistake. If you doubt that we all make them check out all the amended 460s filed by all the candidates.


Adam HIll is deplorable unethical. I think it is foolish to give such an unethical politician the benefit of the doubt when it comes to anything, but especially when it comes to where the ad money is going to.

For instance, I would like to know how many message board posting agents Hill’s advertising agency has working the boards.


Kinda like Dick and Jane from Morro Bay?


Or Carla and Nancy?


Our political campaigns are as corrupt as they can be. I heard a news report after Governor Brown won where an SEIU union member stated that as long as the unions are in charge of running the voting machines in California a republican will never win another race in this state. Whatever Hill may have done is a drop in the bucket compared to the mess we currently have on our hands regarding the electoral process.


Giving to politicians is equivalent to paying tribute money to the mafia boss so you can keep plying your trade.

He gives money to the advertising firm who in turn give him kickbacks in the form of additional ads. Just like the stimulus package or 80% of all other government spending – and fools clamor for government to raise their taxes.

Politicians consider us all useful idiots.


If only he had offered one of his medallions to the Franchise Tax Board.


whew… continuing reports of the ‘over the HILL gang”…


My question is …. How long are District 3 voters going to put up with this crooked political hack? I am a registered Dem but this man is a blight to the party ….. and so is his sidekick Caren Ray. Arn’t there any reasonable Dems among us?

Kevin Rice

Why, yes! You need to assemble them and go attend and vote at the County Dem Central Committee meetings and take back your county party. They are the ones putting all these people up.


True Mr. Rice, just ask Dick and Jane!


Might be time for the “Medallion-ator” to make another appearance.


Faster than a speeding politician. More powerful than a homeless client Able to bribe other city councils at a single bound! (“Look! Up in the sky!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s Medallion Man”)… Yes, it’s Medallion Man… strange visitor from another county who came to SLO with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Medallion Man … who can change the course of county decisions in a single medallion, and who, disguised as Adam, mild-mannered Supervisor for a great central coast county, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!”


Is any one shocked by this article?


only shocked that it will be swept under the rug


They are catching up with you, Adam. Rules are made to be obeyed not skirted around.

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