State launches investigation of Wiggins' aide

A top aide to Sen. Pat Wiggins will be investigated for possibly breaking state law after he allegedly misused the personal information of constituents to try and get the Santa Rosa Democrat re-elected.

Roman Porter, executive director of the Fair Political Practices Commission, said Tuesday that the Sacramento watchdog agency will conduct the investigation, which could result in fines of up to $5,000 for each violation that is found.

Sean MacNeil, the senator?s chief of staff, is accused of directing staffers to mine a legislative database for the personal contact information of officials across the North Coast and creating call sheets that Wiggins then used to encourage people to attend campaign events.

MacNeil could not be reached immediately for comment Tuesday.

Wiggins has not been accused of wrongdoing and she has since announced that she is not seeking re-election due to health reasons.

Porter declined to say what the investigation entails, other than to say it includes alleged violations of the state?s Political Reform Act, which was ratified by voters in 1974 and governs the disclosure of the role of money in California politics.

One former FPPC official said in a prior interview that the agency likely will investigate whether MacNeil?s alleged use of the database represented an in-kind contribution that needed to be disclosed on campaign finance disclosure forms.

Dave Kinst, a former aide to Wiggins, brought the complaint to the FPPC earlier this month. In his sworn affidavit, Kinst said MacNeil directed him on numerous occasions to gather personal information on officials using the Legislative Constituent Management System, which typically is used to track contacts with constituents and to keep them informed of legislative business.

The database can include a person?s home address, home and cell phone numbers, e-mail address and date of birth. Several officials reached by The Press Democrat said the senator contacted them in the Spring to encourage them to attend campaign fund-raisers.

Reached Tuesday, Kinst, a 2007 Sonoma State University graduate, said he could not comment on the case.

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