Politics & Government

San Francisco 49ers drop embattled lobbyist Kevin Sloat

Embattled lobbyist Kevin Sloat has lost one of his most high-profile clients: the San Francisco 49ers.

Team spokesman Bob Lange confirmed to The Sacramento Bee on Friday that the NFL team has severed ties with Sloat, who agreed on Monday to pay a record-setting fine – $133,500 – to the state’s political watchdog for violating lobbying laws. Sloat acknowledged hosting elaborate fundraising parties for nearly 40 politicians, providing liquor, cigars and other hospitality that amounted to campaign contributions prohibited from lobbyists.

Part of the fine the California Fair Political Practices Commission levied on Sloat was for improperly arranging 49ers tickets for two public officials. State law prohibits lobbyists from giving or arranging gifts for government officials worth more than $10 in a month. Sloat, in his settlement with the FPPC, acknowledged arranging more than $600 worth of 49ers tickets for former Assemblyman Jeff Miller and Debra Gravert, chief of staff to Assemblyman Jim Frazier.

Sloat’s firm – Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates – has a long list of clients and brought in $4.7 million last year, according to filings with the secretary of sState. The 49ers paid the firm $105,000 in 2013.

The 49ers are now being represented by Sacramento lobbying firm Governmental Advocates.

Also on Friday, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg acknowledged that he is the so-called “Senator A” who attended a 49ers playoff game referenced in a lawsuit against Sloat brought by his former bookkeeper, Rhonda Smira.

Smira alleges that Sloat directed her to attend a 49ers playoff game against the New York Giants in January 2012 to make sure “ ‘Senator A’ was ‘completely taken care of,’ ” the lawsuit says. Sloat asked Smira to make arrangements with the 49ers to get “ ‘Senator A’ onto the field and into the owner’s suite,” the suit says.

Steinberg did not use his connection to the lobbying firm to enter the playing surface or owner’s box, said his spokesman Rhys Williams. Steinberg paid for his ticket to the game, Williams said.

The FPPC fine against Sloat did not include the Steinberg incident outlined in the lawsuit.

“We reviewed all the relevant facts and there was no violation,” said Gary Winuk, chief of enforcement at the FPPC.

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