Sheedy faces allegations of wrongdoing with recent poll

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A complaint filed Friday with the Fair Political Practices Commission against Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy alleges election law violations stemming from a recent poll authorized through her office.

The Oct. 24 poll was conducted by a polling firm hired by Sheedy to determine public opinion on potential financing plans for the proposed entertainment and sports complex.

According to the complaint filed by Sacramento resident Robert Langdon, Jr., Sheedy may have violated sections of the Political Reform Act of 1974 related to telephone advocacy and misuse of a public figure’s official position.

“(Langdon’s) allegations are completely without merit,” Joann Cummins, Sheedy’s district director, said Monday.

Langdon is a court liaison for the Sacramento county family court – and a longtime Kings fan, according to his mother, Mary Jo Langdon.

Langdon, 31, alleges in the complaint that, by paying for a telephonic “push poll” with campaign re-election funds and failing to advise the people called that the poll was paid for by her campaign, Sheedy violated the act.

According to the FPPC website, if the FPPC finds a violation, it may issue warning letters, impose fines up to $5,000 per violation or pursue civil penalties.

A “push poll" is a seemingly unbiased telephone survey conducted by a particular candidate or his or her supporters that spreads negative information about an opponent or an opposing issue.

“The poll was unfair,” Langdon said Monday. “(Sheedy) has always had issues with the (Sacramento Kings).”

Langdon said he filed the complaint because he felt the use of campaign funds was a violation of “fair practices” in elections.

The act states that when a political candidate expends campaign funds to pay for a telephone call, a disclosure is required that identifies who (or what organization) is paying for or authorizing the call.

The disclosure must specifically state that the call is "paid for" or "authorized" by the identified candidate, committee or organization.

Langdon’s FPPC complaint states that the text of Sheedy’s poll also fails to mention that it was paid for by her campaign.

By posting the results of the political poll on her official city website, Sheedy illegally used her “official position” in an attempt to foster her re-election campaign, violating the telephone advocacy and misuse of official position sections of the act, Langdon said in the complaint.

Those sections of the act state that public officials cannot use their position to influence decisions that are – or may come – before them in their official capacity by contacting any “member, officer, employee or consultant” of the agency that the official represents.

“Everybody pays for polls with campaign funds,” Cummins said. “Polling is a perfectly legitimate use of campaign funds.”

Cummins said Sheedy put the results of the poll on her official city webpage only after clearing it with the city attorney.

Sheedy and her staff will “take a look at the complaint,” Cummins said.

Langdon included news article from The Sacramento Bee in the complaint as evidence, however, according to Gary Winuk, FPPC Enforcement Division chief, a newspaper article is not considered evidence of a violation.

Tara Stock, FPPC spokeswoman, said Monday that after a complaint is received, FPPC Enforcement Division staff will notify the respondent – in this case Sheedy – within three days.

Sheedy will have 10 days to respond, and a determination will be made within 14 days whether the allegations in the complaint merit a full investigation.

“The length of any investigation will vary from case to case,” Stock said. “Timeframes depend on the specific allegations, the level of cooperation from all parties and whether witnesses need to be interviewed or subpoenas need to be issued.”

Sheedy was elected to the City Council for District 2 in 2000 and retained the council seat through the last two elections. She is up for re-election again in 2012.

Opponents vying for the seat have already come forward, including former Midtown Business Association executive director Rob Kerth and Kim Mack, 2008 local campaign organizer for President Barack Obama.

Local businessman Allen Wayne Warren has indicated interest in running for the District 2 council seat but has not made a formal announcement of candidacy.

Although the FPPC complaint challenges Sheedy’s re-election motives with the recent phone poll, Langdon is not a resident of District 2 and did not file the complaint as a constituent or as a potential opponent.

The FPPC was created by the Political Reform Act of 1974 as the enforcement agency for election laws.

Some areas of regulation that full under the FPPC authority include campaign financing and spending, financial conflicts of interest, lobbyist registration and reporting, mass mailings at public expense and gifts given to public officials.

Read the full FPPC complaint here.

Melissa Corker is a Staff Reporter with The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

  • Isaac Gonzalez

    § 18702.3. Determining When a Public Official is Using or Attempting to Use His/Her
    Official Position to Influence a Governmental Decision.
    (a) With regard to a governmental decision which is within or before an official’s agency or an agency appointed by or subject to the budgetary control of his or her agency, the official is attempting to use his or her official position to influence the decision if, for the purpose of influencing the decision, the official contacts, or appears before, or otherwise attempts to influence, any member, officer, employee or consultant of the agency. Attempts to influence include, but are not limited to, appearances or contacts by the official on behalf of a business entity, client, or customer. (b) With regard to a governmental decision which is within or before an agency not covered by subsection (a), the official is attempting to use his or her official position to influence the decision if, for the purpose of influencing the decision, the official acts or purports to act on behalf of, or as the representative of, his or her agency to any member, officer, employee or consultant of an agency. Such actions include, but are not limited to the use of official stationery. Note: Authority cited: Section 83112, Government Code. Reference: Section 87100, Government Code.

    • Isaac Gonzalez

      Since she didn’t use her name, doesn’t that mean she did not use her official position to influence the position? I’m asking because I don’t know.

    • Tony Sheppard

      she was also asking the public their opinion – and the public aren’t “any member, officer, employee or consultant of the agency.” And where the complaint apparently alleges it was a “push poll” and the article defines that, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the article that supports that there was any “push” in terms of information dissemination.

      If she’s required to say who paid for the poll and didn’t say so, then that’s an error and a very simple issue and, in the scope of political wrongdoing probably worthy of a “Don’t do it again!”

    • Rhonda Erwin

      Tony, I agree with your comment!

    • Given the shenanigans by the Arena-At-All-Cost $pendBig $hill force, I see another attempt to try and keep the City of Sacramento Residents from having the final say in the matter.

      Cosmo, over at SNR summed it up pretty well 10-26

      “Public wants a vote on arena subsidies?
      You don’t say!

      If you want to see the actual poll that nearly gave Marcos Breton a brain aneurysm, the scans of the pages are below. Council member Sandy Sheedy commissioned the poll by Grove Insight to show what she presumably already knew: people are deeply skeptical about public financing of an arena.More specifically, big majorities of the 600 people polled are oposed to selling off city property to fund an arena, and they also think they should get a vote on any funding plan.I do think it’s fair to call some these questions leading. Certainly the various ways in which the city might “capitalize its assets,” and get some arena money flowing, are made to sound pretty unappealing here. But while the wording is a bit stark, is it really inaccurate?It is also a little ironic that Kevin Johnson and his supporters were once great champions of the public’s right to vote, when they wanted to wage an expensive ballot campaign to pass KJ’s Strong Mayor Initiative. But anybody suggests that taxpayers should have the final say on public subsidies for a new arena, and it’s “cheap politics.” Ah, well. That’s different…

      UPDATE: Oh yeah, as my friend Dan reminded me, remember when KJ’s campaign adviser, David Townsend was working for PG&E to thwart public power? What was that campaign called? The “Taxpayer Right to Vote Act,” or something…?”

      And when all the dust settles, and the proposal of financing is put forward, with the “public” contribution being solely the responsibility of the City of Sacramento Residents…for the next 30 years…and anything of value has been offered up as a sacrifice to the perpetuation of the business model for The National Greed Association

      We, the residents of this city, deserve the right of a binding vote on that proposal.

      One way or another.You’re either for us or against us….

      You Don’t Want To Be Against Us…Do U?

      Premise 1-The Taxpayer Comes First!

    • Rhonda Erwin

      5th gen: for Goodness sakes ” Oh yeah, as my friend Dan reminded me, remember when KJ’s campaign adviser, David Townsend was working for PG&E to thwart public power? What was that campaign called? The “Taxpayer Right to Vote Act,” or something…?”
      WOW! Thank you for that reminder. We often see anyway the winds blows- as long as it blows in the favor we desire – double standard- politics. You brought up a very good point. I enjoyed reading your comment. Thank you

    • Thanks Rhonda, but just to keep the record straight that “UPDATE” is actually part of Cosmo’s post.

      On another note, I saw the following posted by somebody else, but I somehow imagine it’s happening
      somewhere, in a similar fashion, today.

      Enjoy, viewer discretion advised…if a three letter word defining someone’s posterior offends you.

  • If I was Ms. Sheedy I would not be too smug about this complaint, this huy might be on to something. Next let’s take a look at the police and fire personnel who are only to willing to appear in ads in official uniforms to support their political sycophants.

  • I think she was born smug. Nonplussed is another one of her looks.

  • Pure poppycock.

    The Think Big Committee needs to produce the script it used in its poll as well. We need the script they followed, the exact text of the questions, the exact answers, and other notes on the methodologies they used to get their results. When all they provide is a summary, it makes me think they’re hiding something.

    The complaint against Sheedy here is, at best, shaky. Party on, but when a referendum forces a vote on the arena issue, none of this will matter.

    • The CSUS Dept that brought us the 2005 arena poll’s wesite is below:

      They did not simply ask the arena questions in 2005, but also 2006 and 2007. Look at the Final Kings Report for’s not easy to find though.

      This is the final region report of 2007…from the web sites home page…the Kings are mentioned.

      Go to page 6 and look at the priorities region wide….whats down second from the bottom? Kings.

      Things have changed since then with the economy, however given the established track record of this independent organization within CSUS, along with the unbiased questions that were put forward….why didn’t ThinkBig build upon an established framework? We have been asking for the exact questions and framework on one of their foundations to this arena being widely supported…to deaf ears at the minimum and and cry’s of “foul” “push Poll” “Political games” etc from a lot of ,shall we say, self serving individuals.

      Somrthing You won’t find on the CSUS home page though…the final kings report of 2007

      Why not? Why didn’t ThinkBig take that as a base survey to update and compare to the current community concerns…..You don’t think they went “Poll Shopping” do you?

      Having seen the disparity of ThinkBigs Summary vs 3 years of polls conducted by CSUS and now this one by Ms. Sheedy…..who’s poll most closely resembles the trends we saw in 2005, 2006 and 2007?

    • Rhonda Erwin

      And again, the winner is — by a landslide i might add– fifthgen…

    • Isaac Gonzalez

      From page 7 of the final report linked to above:

      “The crucial question behind the arena debates is who should pay for it. If a new arena
      were to be built, only one percent of those polled express support for public funding for
      the construction, whereas more than half (57%) claim it should be paid for by private
      money only. Thirty-three percent said that a combination of private and public funding
      would be acceptable, four percent prefer other means, and five percent have no opinion.”

      1 percent!!!

    • Ben Ilfeld

      Frankly, that was over 5 years ago and quite a different situation. the assumption at that time was that the arena would be owned by the Maloofs.

      Apples and oranges really and misleading given there have been more recent polls.

      That said, it would be nice to have some pools that were not “push” polls from both sides.

    • Ben,

      First and foremost I want to compliment you and the rest of SacPress for providing a forum that allows different views to be shared, without arbitrarily deleting comments that you may not agree with.

      A similar comment in regards to questioning the itegrity of the ThinkBig Poll and why CSUS was not consulted as a group that already had three years of data with regards to the Arena discussion, was deleted without notice or indication that the comment had been removed on Ryan Lillis blog, along this same story line a little while ago….Vanished. 2:30 PMUPDATE….shortly after posting this I went back to someone’s blog and discovered my comment to have re-appeared.

      First, “More than 30 students conducted phone interviews in English and Spanish from February
      17 to March 8, 2007,” A little over 4 years ago does not an Apple Orange comparrison make….maybe more like Peaches and Nectarines.

      2nd Three years of data from 2005, 2006 and 2007 allows for more than a snapshot of regional perspective.

      3rd CSUS already had the credibility of being unbiased and sound methodology established for pollin in this region. Instaed ThinkBig did what they did and used interpreted results, as compared to exactly showing the questions and data obtained, and then used it as a primary foundation for moving forward to where we are today.

      Regardless now of polling results, I think the residents of Sacramento deserve the final binding say on the use of the city’s public assets and additional debt to be placed upon the general fund when the final proposal is put forward.

      That’s how voters are Heard as compared to being Herded.

      What Do U Think?

    • Ben Ilfeld

      Fair enough. I agree it’s more like nectarines and peaches!

    • Ben Ilfeld

      And as for a vote by the public, I’m conflicted both in terms of timing and the intentions of both sides. It seems like a part of a larger political fight between those who are polarized by the mayor.

  • Sheedy’s time is over.

  • Tony Sheppard

    I wouldn’t want to be the one who has to argue in favor of a funding formula based on reliable basketball income while the league’s in lockout mode and other cities are considering suing the league for lost revenue.

  • Brian Steele

    Polls should not be used as a scapegoat to circumvent the decision making process of elected officials.

    • Unfortunately, a group appointed by the mayor and led by Chris Lehane, produced a poll that helped comvince Coucil to spend over $600,000.00 Dollars of General Fund and Parking Fund monies to move the arena discussion to where it is now.

      ThinkBig did so without providing the actual poll ! City Council compounded the problem by not demanding the poll be produced, they shirked the responsibility of due diligence. 2 CC members didn’t see spending the money as appropriate.

      Sandy Sheedy and Darrell Fong.

      Any argument against providing a binding public vote on final financing plan involving the use of any and all sources of public contribution and ultimate debt being added on to the City’s General Fund….


  • I thought this was an interesting scoop. But I’m curious about what Jim Crandell and Ryan Lillis are reporting–that Langdon didn’t file the complaint, and that no complaint was ever filed with the FPPC. Anything to that? Somebody obviously went through the trouble of typing this thing up and putting Langdon’s name on it. But who…?

    • Isaac Gonzalez

      I talked to Langdon last night. Found him on Facebook.

    • And here’s an update from COSMO over at SNR Today:

      “UPDATE: Remind me to wait on sharing future scoops from Sac Press. The Fair Political Practices Commission told Sheedy and Ryan Lillis over at the Bee that no such complaint has been filed. What’s more, Lillis and Jim Crandell at Fox 40 are both reporting that Mr Langdon seems confused by the whole thing and doesn’t know how his name ended up on the complaint. He thought he was signing some internet petition.

      November 01, 2011

      Kings fan files complaint against Sheedy and her horrible irresponsible dangerous poll – OR NOT!

      “Wow, just when I thought the Sacramento Press had given up on news, Melissa Corker had this little scoop today about one Robert Langdon, an angry Kings fan who has filed an FPPC complaint against Sandy Sheedy because of the poll she released last week showing that taxpayers largely think they should get a vote on public subsidies for a new arena.

      The possible violation, I gather, is that Sheedy used campaign money to commission the poll, then posted the poll on her official city webpage–thereby comingling her official and political operations in an unholy and illegal way.

      Anybody out there know if there’s a legitimate complaint here? Anyone who wouldn’t just be talking out the side of their neck, like me? Either way, I don’t think it will get Sheedy to shut up.”

      “All of which leaves the question: Who did make up the complaint, and does that person go by the initials R.E.?”

  • Isaac, any insight from your conversation? Anything hint of who created the complaint?

    • Isaac Gonzalez

      I just talked to him right now. He said that he is withdrawing the complaint.

    • Ben Ilfeld

      Curious now that our editorial department’s rep is being questioned – was a complaint filed and withdrawn or never filed at all?

    • Isaac Gonzalez

      He’s asked that his name be taken off the letter. He told he that he had no idea that he was filing a complaint with the FPPC. He told me that he thought he was signing some sort of online petition.

  • We need Robert Langdon to figure this all out. After all, he did decipher the Da Vinci Code.


  • Rhonda Erwin

    This has been fun I enjoyed reading the comments and information shared and I love Cosmo G at SN&R always have and always will – he keeps it real and does not bite his tongue or sugar coat anything.

    • I just remember those teachings of Ghandi you quote often…when I see a thumbs down on a comment.

    • Rhonda Erwin

      Ghandi: First they ignore you; then they laugh at you, then they fight you–THEN you WIN!- LOL
      Thank you for reminding me:)

      Have a blessed day. The thumbs down doesn’t bother me lol. I can write, ” have a nice day” and a few will vote it down so that tells me it may not be the content of what i write that a few may not like; Heck they just may not like me and that’s okay. I’m not trying to make friends I’m trying to make a point. And, I trust in God and whoever it is intended for will receive it in the spirit it is intended- “In the Spirit of Love” Thank you!

      And PS. whoever votes me down must get a newsflash or google alert lol or something. A couple people vote it down right after I write it. Heck, I am flattered they watch me that closely. It’s when they stop watching we need to be concerned

  • Melissa Corker

    We are following this story closely and will be in contact with the FPPC again in the morning. We’ll post an update as soon as possible.

    • At this point, or at the very latest, after talking with the FPPC, the title of this article needs to be corrected to reflect what actually occurred here.

      There are any number of word and terms that begin to reflect the dishonesty put forward by someone to discredit someone else

      We are still 8 months away from our first election of 2012. The deceptions are most likely only starting.

    • From Ryan Lillis

      “Copies of the alleged complaint were circulated to the media”

      Did somebody just simply email you and others in the media with the complaint?

  • “The poll was unfair,” Langdon said Monday. “(Sheedy) has always had issues with the (Sacramento Kings).”

    Langdon said he filed the complaint because he felt the use of campaign funds was a violation of “fair practices” in elections.

    That is from your story above, but it sounds like from other sources (ie Isaac from RanSACed), that he never intended to file a complaint.

    Can you clear this up? Did you actually speak with Langdon himself?

  • William Burg

    From the “Fox 40” news report referenced in Cosmo’s blog:,0,6338108.story

    “In a phone conversation with FOX40 Sports Director Jim Crandell, the man who signed the complaint said he’s not entirely sure what he signed.
    Be the first to know! Sign up for FOX40 breaking news alerts.

    The man told Crandell he thought he was signing an internet petition, like he’d done in the past.

    No word on where the forms came from or how they ended up with the man who signed them. The man said all he did was sign and return the forms, as he was told to do.”

    This smells fishy…who told him to sign the forms? Langdon is an attorney–how many attorneys would willingly provide their legal signature to a document they didn’t understand–or sign a printed-out document assuming it was an “Internet petition”? According to the newscaster, he received the document from “friends, neighbors, came on the Internet” but wouldn’t specify who actually asked him to sign the form. Again, fishy.

    • Tony Sheppard

      Yes – it sounds like a complaint alleging a lack of full disclosure that doesn’t, itself, seem to have any disclosure whatsoever. Perhaps we need to rewrite the old saying about people living in glass houses not throwing stones to one about people living in mirrored houses not pointing fingers.

    • Isaac Gonzalez

      “Langdon is a court liaison for the Sacramento county family court”

      I don’t think he is an attorney, and if he is he makes no mention of it on his Facebook page. He lists his employer as Child Protective Services.

  • Melissa Corker

    FPPC enforcement division chief, Gary Winuk said today that the FPPC will not open a case based on the complaint received from Langdon on Friday.
    Here is the latest update:

    • William Burg

      Okay–but Langdon claims he didn’t file the complaint! So who did?

    • Melissa Corker

      Langdon has not been able to identify where the email he received originated from, but that is something we are still looking into. As we get more information on the story, we’ll add updates.


Stay connected to what's happening in the city

* We hate spam, too, and will never share your info.