It may have taken an investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission, but Connecticut son-of-a-billionaire Reverge Anselmo has finally filed as a major campaign donor in Shasta County after giving nearly $1 million to local rightwing causes during the past three years.
A News Café first reported Anselmo’s failure to file as a major donor in May after Shasta Forward, the political action committee that defended Shasta County Supervisors Leonard Moty, Mary Rickert and Joe Chimenti against the Anselmo-funded recall last year, filed a complaint with the FPPC.
In turn, the FPPC launched an investigation into Anselmo’s Shasta County donations, as reported by A News Café last week. Angela Brereton, chief of the FPPC’s enforcement division, informed Anselmo he was under investigation on May 31.
“This letter is to notify you that the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission has commenced a commission-initiated investigation regarding your potential violations of the campaign finance provisions of the Political Reform Act,” Brereton warned.
Apparently Anselmo, who could not be reached for comment, got the message. On July 19, he submitted three major donor and independent expenditure committee campaign statements, known as a form 461, for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022. All told during that time period, Anselmo contributed $944,900 to right-wing causes in Shasta County.
According to the new filings, in 2020 Anselmo donated $110,000 to Patrick Jones’ successful bid for the District 4 supervisor seat, an unheard-of amount for a local race in Shasta County. The next year, new regulations kicked in limiting individual contributions to city and county candidates to $4900.
In 2021, Anselmo gave $450,000 to the Shasta General Purpose Committee, the PAC that financed the recall of Moty, Rickert and Chimenti. After failing to gather enough signatures to recall Rickert and Chimenti, the PAC focused the bulk of its funding on recalling Moty, who was ultimately recalled earlier this year.
In 2022, Anselmo donated $200,000 to Shasta General Purpose Committee and $180,000 to Liberty Committee. The latter PAC promoted a slate of six ultraconservative candidates in the June primary election. Four of those candidates were soundly defeated; two face runoff elections in the fall.
Anselmo also donated $4900 to District 5 supervisor candidate Baron Browning. Browning elected to keep the unsolicited contribution despite Anselmo’s growing reputation as a carpetbagging meddler.
The son of a late billionaire satellite television pioneer, Anselmo tried his hand at producing films in Hollywood before relocating to Shasta County in the 2000s, where he built a restaurant and winery near Shingletown. After clashing with Shasta County over zoning violations, Anselmo sold the property and returned to his native Connecticut.
An extreme libertarian, Anselmo has donated $1.4 million to Rand Paul’s Protect Freedom PAC. With the exception of the $4900 donation to Browning, the $1 million Anselmo has spent in Shasta County during the past three years has gone exclusively to hard right candidates and causes.
This isn’t the first time Anselmo has come under FPPC scrutiny for his Shasta County political donations. In 2012, he was fined $800 when he “failed to timely file a semi-annual campaign statement” after he donated $31,900 to local candidates, including $10,000 to Patrick Jones’ first unsuccessful attempt to gain a county supervisor’s seat.
Will the fact that Anselmo has now filed as a major donor prevent him from being fined again? Not necessarily, says FPPC communications director Jay Wierenga.
“Generally speaking, if the person only corrects the mistake or omission after being notified of it, that is not given the mitigating action compared to taking action on their own ahead of any notification,” Wierenga said.
“If someone files a complaint with us and then we notify the Form 700 filer, who then makes a correction, any correction/amendment is seen as a good thing … but again the person would not generally be given as much leeway in mitigation compared to fixing it first themselves.”
The new case against Anselmo joins three ongoing FPPC investigations into potential campaign finance violations by the Recall Shasta County PAC, the Red, White and Blueprint docuseries and the Shasta General Purpose Committee. All four investigations are active and remain open.