Menifee mayor enters into proposed settlement for misuse of campaign funds

Scott Mann, the mayor of Menifee, and one of two candidates vying for the same seat with the city, is entering into a proposed settlement with the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission, according to a press release issued by the agency.

In the settlement, Mann, who also serves as the chairman of the Republican Party of Riverside County, admits to the personal use of campaign funds in the amount of $44,894. Of this amount, he has reimbursed $17,152 to his committees as of the Oct. 14 date of the press release.

Mann also admitted to a “campaign recordkeeping violation” and agreed to announce the settlement before the November election. The embattled mayoral candidate issued a formal statement regarding the incident, apologizing to his supporters and residents of Menifee.

“Last week, the FPPC announced a negotiated settlement stemming from campaign violations I had committed three years ago,” Mann wrote. “Although this settlement has not been ratified by the Commission, they decided to issue a press release before the election. Keeping this in perspective, this is a civil matter imposed by a regulatory agency stemming from actions, for the most part, before I became mayor.”

In his statement Mann said that between the years 2010 and 2013 he found himself in “extremely difficult financial circumstances.”

“The choices I made included borrowing campaign funds for personal use, a decision I deeply regret,” he wrote. “With the support of family and guidance from my pastor, I was able overcome my financial problems and make restitution to my campaign account. At no time did this strictly personal situation affect the city of Menifee or interfere with my performance as mayor.”

Mann, who also serves as the president of Riverside County Division, League of California Cities, chairs the Riverside County City Selection Committee and serves as a Commissioner for the Riverside County Transportation Commission closed his statement with an apology.

“Although these events are three years in the past, it’s important that I take responsibility for my actions,” he wrote. “Like many of us have before in life, I made a mistake that I deeply regret. I offer my sincerest apology to the public.”

Senator Jeff Stone is calling for Mann to resign his positions with the city and the county’s Republican Party.

“Given the recent findings of financial malfeasance on the part of Menifee Mayor Scott Mann by the Fair Political Practices Commission, I believe the best thing he can do is resign his position on the City Council as well as his position with the Riverside County Republican Party,” Stone wrote in an email to Valley News. “The people need to be able to count on their elected leaders to exercise good judgment, and Scott Mann has failed his constituents. His actions have shown he is not worthy of serving those who entrusted him with great responsibility.”

Mann also chairs the U.S. Service Academy Selection Committee for U.S. Representative Ken Calvert, R-Corona (CD-42); and also served as a Director for the Riverside County Workforce Investment Board from December 2011 to June 2015.

Mann has agreed to pay a proposed penalty of $60,000 by Dec. 1, so that the settlement may be presented to the FPPC Commissioners at the public meeting scheduled for Dec. 15. Settlement of the case is subject to approval by a majority of the members of the FPPC.

The FPPC press release reports that roughly one-half of the misused funds came from a bank account that was established for Mann’s 2010 city council committee. The other half came from an account that was established for Mann’s 2012 and 2014 mayoral committees. Most of the funds were ATM cash withdrawals or bank transfers from committee accounts to personal/family accounts.

According to the FPPC release, “Generally, Mann did not report these expenditures on his committee campaign statements and he failed to keep required records of the expenditures.” The expenditures were unrelated to any political, legislative, or governmental purpose.

“The personal purposes for which Mann used these funds included personal vacation/travel/dining expenses, personal tax relief expenses, personal vehicle repair/registration expenses, and personal expenses related to a family wedding in Malibu,” the release states.

Under current law, penalties imposed for personal use of campaign funds may not be paid from campaign funds.

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