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Grover Beach Mayor fined for campaign finance violations 

The ghosts of campaign finance past are haunting at least one candidate in Grover Beach’s 2016 municipal elections.

Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals will have to pay a fine of $1,101, after the California Fair Political Practices Committee (FPPC) found that he failed to report late donations to his campaign war chest during a 2014 mayoral run.

The fine was part of a stipulated agreement between the commission’s enforcement division and Shoals, who is currently running for re-election. Speaking with New Times, Shoals characterized his interaction with the commission’s staff as “positive.”

“I’m looking forward to moving past this,” Shoals said.

SLO County resident and self-styled political activist Kevin P. Rice filed the complaint against Shoals in May. In the complaint, Rice claimed that roughly 50 percent of the more than $20,712 in contributions to Shoals’ 2014 campaign for mayor of Grover Beach were reported late. He also alleged that five contributions totaling more than $7,200 made within 90 days of the election—which qualify under state elections rules as “late” contributions—were also not reported within time limits set by the state election code.

The agreement between Shoals and the FPPC is composed of five separate fines for five non-monetary donations made between November and October of 2014. According to the FPPC’s ruling, Shoals failed to report late contributions within 24 hours of receiving them.

Shoals characterized the violations as an honest mistake—one he said he wouldn’t repeat in his current campaign.

“Moving forward, I will hire someone who will help keep track of that and use it as a lesson learned,” Shoals said. 

Shoals is currently running against Ron Arnoldsen, a former Grover Beach mayor and City Council member. Both men will likely square off at a mayor and City Council candidate forum slated to take place Sept. 14 at the Ramona Garden Park Center. 

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