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About FPPC

Provider of steel coated and lined pipes. The company coats and lines steel pipes for the oil and gas industry. Products include seamless, electric Line welded, and spiral welded pipes.

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358 5 750 4400

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Borenstein: Felon elections chief keeps pension, serves sentence in Hawaii

Jul 28, 2021

Joe Canciamilla, Clerk Recorder for the Contra Costa Elections & Registration office, demonstrates how an optical scanner, that was made in the 80s, works in Martinez, Calif., on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. The antiquated equipment, like the machines used to tabulate election results, are currently used by the county because advanced technology is susceptible to hacking. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group) PUBLISHED: | UPDATED: July 28, 2021 at 5:34 a.m. Former state Assemblyman and Contra Costa elections chief Joe Canciamilla, now a convicted felon after illegally spending at least $130,529 of campaign funds, won’t serve a day in jail. Instead, under a plea deal approved this month with District Attorney Diana Becton, he will probably spend six months on home detention at his oceanfront Hawaii home while continuing to draw his full public pension. Becton in an email Friday defended the sentence as “fair and equitable.” But it’s a very different picture than she portrayed in her press release 10 days earlier, in which she falsely claimed that “Canciamilla will serve 365 days in county jail per his guilty plea.” Canciamilla, while comingling campaign and personal funds, spent political money on a vacation in Asia, paying off a $37,321 personal loan, remodeling his Hawaii home — apparently the same home where he will now serve his home detention — and other private expenses, according to state and county investigations. The reason we have laws to separate personal from political accounts and prohibit personal use of campaign funds is to ensure people don’t use the accounts as passthroughs for bribing political leaders. Becton’s prosecutorial deal-cutting with another elected official and shameful public deception undermines confidence in the oversight system. Contra Costans were misled four years ago by the state attorney general in the case of their corrupt former district attorney and are now watching a replay in this case. When some of Canciamilla’s improper spending was uncovered by state auditors from the Franchise Tax Board, he presented false information, including altered bank records, to fraudulently conceal additional violations of state campaign finance laws. That audit led to an investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which found in 2019 that Canciamilla repeatedly violated the very campaign finance laws he was supposed to uphold as Contra Costa’s elected clerk-recorder. Under an agreement with the FPPC, Canciamilla reimbursed the misused money to the campaign accounts and paid a $150,000 penalty — only half of which came from his personal funds. Ironically, the FPPC allowed him to use campaign funds to pay the other half. The FPPC is not empowered to bring criminal charges. That’s why the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office launched its own investigation and in June 2020 filed 30 counts of felony perjury for the false campaign statements Canciamilla signed and four counts of felony grand theft. Under the plea deal , Canciamilla, who is also an attorney, must stop practicing law, will likely be disbarred and cannot hold public or elected office. But the four grand theft charges were reduced to misdemeanors, and Canciamilla pleaded guilty to just the five earliest of the felony perjury counts. The dates of the five felony offenses allowed Canciamilla to keep his pension. Under state law , if a public employee is convicted of a felony stemming for official duties or in pursuit of that job, he must forfeit his pension accrual from the date of the earliest crime. His campaign violations involved his accounts for an aborted run for Superior Court judge in 2012 and, after he was appointed to fill the county clerk-recorder vacancy, his subsequent campaigns for election to that post. But the felony counts in the plea deal pertained only to his aborted judicial campaign. Becton, the district attorney, dismissed the violations during his subsequent time as clerk-recorder, thereby allowing him to keep his pension in its entirety. The pension is for four years of credit for serving on the Pittsburg City Council, four years on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors before he became a state assemblyman in 2000 and his service as clerk-recorder from 2013-19. His clerk-recorder tenure and salary accounts for most of the value of the pension, which started at $68,000 a year in November 2019 and increases annually with inflation. If this pension leniency sounds familiar, that’s because it’s like that the state Attorney General’s Office showed former Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson in 2017, after he acknowledged using $66,372 of campaign funds for personal items such as restaurant meals, gasoline, clothing, movie tickets, hotel rooms and cellular telephone bills. Peterson resigned from office and pleaded no contest to only the most recent of 13 felony counts, allowing him to keep an annual pension starting at $128,000, or most of what he would have otherwise received. Becton succeeded Peterson and was not involved in his criminal case. But she understood the pension implications of the plea deal for Canciamilla. In agreeing to the plea bargain, she wrote, she considered “pleas to five felony counts, a sentence of one year in the county jail, a $150,000.00 fine that had already been paid in full to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, and the laws that govern pensions and public employees.” Related Articles

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