Sep 16, 2022 - Politics

Phoenix councilmember Carlos Garcia likely violated campaign finance laws

A man posing for a headshot.
Phoenix council member Carlos Garcia. Photo: Courtesy of city of Phoenix

Phoenix councilmember Carlos Garcia likely violated state campaign finance laws by accepting $27,955 in donations from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.

  • An investigation by the Gilbert town clerk also found that he submitted one of his finance reports more than two months late.

Why it matters: State law prohibits candidates from accepting donations from labor unions.

Catch up quick: Garcia is running for a second term in District 8, which includes much of south Phoenix.

What happened: A Phoenix resident filed a complaint against Garcia with the Phoenix city clerk in July alleging he'd violated campaign finance law.

  • Phoenix asked Gilbert to investigate to avoid a conflict of interest.

What they found: Garcia's acceptance of the UFCW contributions do appear to have violated the law, according to the investigation.

  • Labor unions can donate to candidates through Political Action Committees, and UFCW has done so in the past.
  • The UFCW PAC would also have to report those contributions — it did not— which led the investigator to believe Garcia's donations were from the labor union itself and illegal.
  • Yes, but: Even if the donations had been made through the PAC, they exceeded the amount a PAC can donate in a single election cycle.

Zoom in: The investigation confirmed that Garcia did not submit his campaign finance report until June 27, 73 days after the April 15 deadline.

  • Phoenix has already notified Garcia's campaign of the late filing and he's paid the $1,600 fee, according to the investigation.

What's next: Gilbert sent the investigation report to the Phoenix city attorney on Thursday. The city has not yet announced any additional disciplinary action.

Of note: Garcia and UFCW did not immediately respond to our requests for comment.

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