Barich faces FPPC complaint
Longtime foe Moore accuses Cotati Council candidate with numerous election infractions
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By Jud Snyder  October 12, 2012 12:00 am

Once again, Cotati’s City Council election is clouded over by a Fair Political Practices Commission complaint against candidate George Barich.

A similar one to the FPPC was filed against Barich in the 2010 election, and it resulted in money laundering and “improper campaign finance accounting” evidence against Barich and a few other Cotatians.

They were assessed modest fines, and the incident disappeared from local media.

The FPPC complaint was filed by John Moore, insurance executive and longtime foe of Barich (He had previously filed the 2010 FPPC complaint). Moore contends Barich’s monthly publication, the Cotati Independent, is the chief offender along with its publisher and owner.

Moore said Barich “violated FPPC rules by failure to disclose cash contributions, failure to disclose in-kind contributions, failure to include required language on election collateral, failure to file notice of intent to run (for council) prior to expenditure of funds for campaign purposes, and purposeful fraudulent attempts to circumscribe FPPC rules regarding newspaper exemption.”

A list of names of those involved (first page was missing in The Voice packet) includes Greg Karraker, Ken Coleman, Joyce Garcia, Tom Scott and Jeff Spackman, both managers at Oliver’s Market, and Patti Minnis, Cotati jewelry store owner and former city councilwoman. It can be assumed Barich’s name was on the front missing page.

Karraker, Coleman and Garcia are frequent contributors or letter writers to Barich’s newspaper. They’re billed as both “writers and opinion” spokespeople in the paper.

In expanding on his contention the Cotati  Independent is not a genuine newspaper, Moore said, “It does not meet the criteria set by the FPPC…it doesn’t meet even the barest minimum requirements of journalistic standards regarding fact-checking accuracy and political impartiality, purposefully blending ‘story and opinion’ by Barich and other writers.”

In a phone call to Barich last Saturday night, he said he hasn’t seen Moore’s complaint to the FPPC yet, but scoffed at it.
“The FPPC gets hundreds of these complaints every election and most of them are routinely adjudicated and discharged,” said Barich. “It’s a political stunt. He must have composed it while sitting on a bar stool in Rohnert Park.

“Look, the FPPC has already said using a newspaper as a political tool is a legitimate function. I’m just exercising my right of free speech. Others are getting desperate about my city council campaign.

“The Cotati City Council needs diversity. Five people are running the city over a fiscal cliff.”
Barich offered space in his October issue for statements from the other candidates, but none of them replied. So he ran their photos with nothing but blank spaces underneath.

“The FPPC suit two years ago was aimed at defeating diversity on the council,” Barich added. “Now they’re doing it again.” He won a seat on the council but was recalled by voters several months later.

Barich claims Moore is “a political operative of the far left. To me, my newspaper is a labor of love, the money comes from donations and I spend three days personally delivering the copies.”

There’s no word out when the FPPC will act on Moore’s complaint. It’s extremely doubtful they’ll take any action prior to the Nov. 6 election, but will probably issue a response sometime next year.

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