FPPC will not open case based on Sheedy poll complaint
Fair Political Practices Commission Enforcement Division Chief Gary Winuk said Wednesday a case would not be opened based on a complaint filed with the FPPC Friday.
The complaint, filed by Robert Langdon, Jr., alleged that Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy violated the Political Reform Act with a recent public opinion poll authorized by her office and paid for with campaign funds.
Winuk sent a letter to Langdon Wednesday stating that “after review of the complaint, the information you provided is insufficient to establish a violation of the act.”
Langdon, a court liaison for Sacramento County Family Court and a Sacramento Kings fan, confirmed Monday evening that he sent the complaint because he felt the poll was “unfair,” and Sheedy’s use of campaign funds to pay for the poll was a violation of “fair practices” in elections.
The letter from Winuk addressed the specific areas of concern in the complaint of misuse of official position and lack of disclosure regarding the use of campaign funds.
“The use of campaign funds to conduct a poll is an appropriate use of campaign funds,” the letter stated. “Additionally, since the telephone calls were not for the purpose of advocating a candidate or ballot measure, no identification by the Sheedy campaign was required.”
Winuk said Wednesday that a copy of both the complaint and the FPPC response would be sent to Sheedy’s office.
After the story was originally reported by The Sacramento Press and picked up by other news media, Langdon said that he received “hundreds of calls and emails” from media representatives.
“I didn’t know it was going to the media,” Langdon said Tuesday.
Langdon said that the FPPC complaint he signed and submitted came to him in an email last week – along with many other political ads, petitions and surveys.
Langdon said Tuesday that he didn’t understand he was completing a formal complaint against Sheedy when he followed the email instructions to print, sign and submit the form.
“I thought it was a petition – I get lots of those,” Langdon said. “I was going through stuff and signed a few things and signed other petitions at the same time.”
Langdon said he regularly signs petitions and political surveys that he receives by email.
“I guess it was just a misunderstanding or something,” Langdon said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
Langdon said that when he saw the email in his inbox, he showed it to his brother and some of his friends.
“I told (my friends), ‘This looks good. Let’s sign it and keep jobs in Sacramento,’ so my friends signed (forms), too,” Langdon said.
Langdon said he does not know who sent the email to him and he cannot retrieve it because he deleted it last week.
The media attention was more than he bargained for, Langdon said, and he quickly decided to retract the FPPC complaint.
“I’m trying to get the complaint withdrawn,” Langdon said Tuesday. “I sent a letter to the FPPC asking them to drop it.”
Langdon said that although he agrees with the specifics of the complaint, he doesn’t want to be the person who formally makes the complaint.
“I’m not going to be the one guy complaining,” Langdon said. “I just want to have it stopped and let someone else do it.”
Winuk could not confirm Wednesday if the FPPC had received a retraction request from Langdon yet.
Winuk said that, if a retraction request is received, he has the authority to determine if the case would stand on its own merits without a sworn complaint. If the case had merit, Winuk said he could proceed with an investigation.
Langdon said the media fallout has been “a learning experience” for him, and he wants to be more careful about what he does with emails he receives in the future.
“There’s a lot on the Internet,” Langdon said. “It can be good and it can be bad.”
Melissa Corker is a Staff Reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.