FPPC will not open case based on Sheedy poll complaint

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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.

  • Observation 1:

    “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.”

    With that in mind, it sure seems like it doesn’t matter who files the complaint, there won’t be any further investigation.

    Observation 2: Don’t just sign ANYTHING people put in front of you! I sure hope this guy doesn’t negotiate to buy a new car until he learns this lesson. “You mean I HAVE to have rust protection?”

    Observation 3: Was Sheedy’s poll more or less of a push-poll than Think Big’s was?

  • Isaac Gonzalez

    What remains to be known is who emailed it to Langdon and how did it get to the press? The first question we may never know for sure, but there are people who could clarify the second one.

  • I think the headline doesn’t get to the meat of this – who sends out FPPC complaint forms en masse masked as petitions?

  • Isaac Gonzalez

    Please take the poor guy’s name and adress off the document listed in this article! I think he’s been played enough already without reporters knocking at his door.

    • Melissa Corker

      Thank you for your comments, Isaac.
      The complaint and response letter from the FPPC are public documents sent to us with address and contact information intact.
      For Mr. Langdon’s sake, however, we are redacting address/phone/email from the linked document in our article. This will not remove the information from the public record, of course, but it may offer some relief from those inclined to hound him.

    • Isaac Gonzalez

      I’m sure he’ll appreciate that.

    • Ben Ilfeld

      as do I

    • Rhonda Erwin

      Melissa thank you for the article. Thank you for reporting on this story. Heck, it enables us to see the dirty games we are up against this campaign season. Thank you also for being considerate and taking Mr Langdon’s contact info off the linked document in your article.

      Heck, I really feel sorry for the guy now. He’s not outspoken not a special assistant, campaign manager, elected official, activist. He’s a poor guy who tried to do a good thing; to be involved an active and engaged community member and show interest in our politics, our community… and sign a petition. I feel bad someone took advantaged of him in this manner. I hope it doesn’t stop him from reading petitions, being engaged and following his heart. I learned a lesson from your articles. Again, Thank you very much

    • William Burg

      Either that, or he’s a willing “fall guy” willing to lie to support the pro-arena effort.

  • William Burg

    So…if Langdon wasn’t the one who actually wrote or filed the complaint (he claims he just signed it), who actually wrote the complaint and sent it in?

  • Isaac Gonzalez

    I will try to settle this.
    The person who sent me a copy of the complaint did so anonymously. As a result, I will not name that person. It is the same as any other story in which a source provides me a document.
    Now, it was never quite clear to me why this source sent me the complaint, which is why I have never covered this story as if it were just about the complaint, as some other media outlets have. To me, it has been a political tiff at the least and something much more serious at the most. I am continuing to attempt to find if there is a link between Mr. Langdon and anyone who might want to discredit Sandy Sheedy and her poll.
    So far, all I know for sure is that the FPPC has no record of who hand delivered the complaint to their office. I have filed another public records act request with another agency, however, that might shed some light on a paper trail, if one exists.
    I’m sorry that I can’t name the source.
    I hope this helps.

    Read more: http://blogs.sacbee.com/city-beat/2011/11/fppc-wont-investigate-sheedy-for-kings-arena-poll.html#ixzz1cbi87PkS

    • Isaac Gonzalez

      That’s from Ryan Lillis at the Bee,

  • Rhonda Erwin

    I removed my 2 previous comments. I felt really bad for Langdon after reading Isaac’s comment on SN&R about Langdon’s hearing…… I hope things work out for the best for him and that he is left alone and out of this mess.


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