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Oceanside Firefighters Association charged fines for late filing

OCEANSIDE — Tim Scott Oceanside Firefighter Association secretary said it was an expensive lesson learned, when the firefighters association was charged $12,000 for late filing. Fellow firefighters agree.

“It was not intentional, but it’s still a lot (of money),” Firefighters Association President Dave Overton said. “It won’t happen again.”

Late filing incidents and one incident that supposedly involved funds from the association general fund account, occurred in 2010, but were unknown to association members until recently.

The incidents were brought to the attention of the association’s accounting firm based in Los Angeles, which failed to inform the association.

Once a fine was issued in January the firefighters association quickly cleared things up with the Fair Political Practices Commission.

The fine for the unintentional mistakes was reduced from the original amount to $12,000 and paid.

The mix up of funds supposedly taken from the general association account, which pays for association expenses like coffee, and given as a campaign contribution, has also been rectified. Money from the correct Political Action Committee account paid for the questioned political contribution.

Scott stressed the incidents were unintended mistakes, and there is absolutely no intention to cover up association use of funds.

The firefighters association is politically active and does support, and file disclosure on contributions made to political campaigns.

Political contributions are filed daily during election season.

Standard filings are made twice annually.

Scott said it is still unclear why the former accounting firm delayed filing past deadlines.

“I’m not sure why they kept filing late, and putting our paperwork in late,” Scott said. “We never misrepresented ourselves. We always filed properly.”

To complicate matters, between when the accounting firm was notified and when the association was fined this January, firefighters who previously headed the association moved on to work elsewhere, and newcomers to the association positions were faced with the news of the fines.

“It took us by surprise,” Scott said. “We never knew anything was incorrect.”

Once fines were paid, the association took further action and initiated an independent audit to ensure there are no further errors.

Association policies were also updated so that future association leaders will have a clear plan of action on necessary procedures.

“The fine was paid, and we’re free and clear,” Scott said. “We never had a problem in past. We worked with them to get the issue resolved. From the organization’s standpoint its behind us.”

The firefighters association has stopped working with the L.A. accounting firm and is seeking a local accounting firm to do business with by the next filing period in July.

The firefighter association is considering legal actions against its former accounting firm.