California political watchdog rebuffs request by Carlos Slim’s firm

by Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times

California’s political watchdog agency is not pursuing an enforcement action against an immigrants rights group that was requested by a company owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

In May, mobile phone firm TracFone Wireless Inc. of Miami filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission against an organization called Two Countries, One Voice.

The group accuses Slim and his companies of monopolistic business practices in Mexico. It has held protests in California and has pressed for legislation that could slow the expansion of TracFone’s prepaid cellphone network in the United States.

TracFone, a unit of Slim’s America Movil, alleged in its complaint that Two Countries, One Voice violated California’s lobbying laws, including provisions for disclosing sponsors.

The FPPC notified TracFone that investigators found “insufficient evidence of a violation of the Political Reform Act.”

Juan Jose Gutierrez, a co-founder of Two Countries, One Voice, said he was pleased that “the FPPC did not allow itself to be used by TracFone and Carlos Slim to do their dirty work.”

TracFone countered that Americans have a right to know if “foreign entities,” such as Slim’s enemies in Mexico, are trying to influence government decisions by using phony grass-roots organizations. “We will continue to pursue every avenue to make sure the funders of this group are properly identified,” spokesman Jose A. Fuentes said.