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wrightmug.jpgA legal defense fund recently opened by Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, has caught the eye of the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Wright, whose residency claims are the subject of an investigation by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, last month opened a campaign account to cover potential legal costs .

Lawmakers can use such accounts to raise unlimited funds to pay for attorney fees and other legal costs, but are required to identify why the funds are needed and return excess funds once the case or challenge in question is resolved. The statement of organization establishing "Taxpayers for Rod Wright Legal Defense Fund," stops short of listing the reason for opening the account, saying only that surplus funds will be used for "any lawful purpose."

FPPC Executive Director Roman Porter said commission staff is looking into whether Wright "accurately and appropriately filed" the paperwork to establish a legal defense fund.

Wright said he was unaware of any issues with the account paperwork and that he would ask his treasurer to amend the filing if necessary.

"I thought it was done properly," he said.

Wright declined to identify specific legal cases or fees the account would be used for, saying the fund would be used for "any legal fees that I incur in connection with any legal issue." When asked whether he anticipated any legal issues or challenges in addition to the pending LA District Attorney's probe, Wright said, "not that I would discuss in the paper."

No late expenditures have been reported since the account was opened, but as Greg Lucas reported at the California's Capitol blog last week, Wright's top aide has sent an ambiguously worded note inviting lobbyists to meet with the senator later this week. The letter, posted by Lucas , reads:

"I would like to discuss with you a pending matter and answer any of your questions and enlist your support.

I know this message may seem a bit cryptic but I beg your indulgence and ask that you join me for a light lunch at noon on Wednesday December 2nd."

Wright also declined to discuss the purpose of tomorrow's meeting, saying the notes sent were private invitations.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office searched two residences earlier this fall in connection with an investigation into whether Wright lied about his residency when he was running for the 25th Senate District Seat.

David Demerjian, head of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Public Integrity division, said Monday investigators are currently reviewing evidence gathered in the searches to determine whether to file charges in the case.

Photo credit: Sen. Rod Wright's official Web site.

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