Capitol Alert

Pro-Jerry Brown labor committee, California senators agree to campaign finance fines

Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber reads bills as the Budget Conference Committee convenes on June 12, 2014.
Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber reads bills as the Budget Conference Committee convenes on June 12, 2014.

California’s campaign finance watchdog has secured penalties in cases against a pair of state senators and a labor-backed committee that helped elect Gov. Jerry Brown.

The penalties would all need to be approved during an Aug. 20 meeting of the California Fair Political Practice Commission, although the commission rarely departs from agreed upon fines.

In one case, a campaign committee established by organized labor – Million More Voters – erred in how it shared information about independent expenditures it made on behalf of candidates who included Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, in addition to not correctly disclosing payments to a political firm.

Founded by the California Labor Federation, the outfit spent $2.1 million for Brown and $747,650 for Harris during the 2010 cycle but failed to properly disclose those expenditures, according to the FPPC, which leveled a $16,000 penalty as a result.

In another case, Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, agreed to a penalty for circumventing campaign finance law by contributing in 2012 to a Republican Assembly candidate through a county committee, a case reminiscent of the one the FPPC brought against Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte.

The $4,320 donation to Robert A. Williams, passing through the Tehama County Republican Central Committee, violated a $3,900 contribution limit in place at the time and fell short of reporting requirements, the FPPC charges.

Separately, the FPPC found that Nielsen illegally received tickets to a Sacramento Kings game from the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, a gift arranged by the lobbying firm Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates. Nielsen agreed to a $10,000 fine for both transgressions.

Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, has agreed to a fine of $4,000 for failing to disclose an in-kind contribution of campaign office space, given at reduced rent by Santa Monica Business Park Limited Partnership.

And the chief of staff to California Treasurer John Chiang signed off on having Bank of America help underwrite the sale of a general obligation bond despite owning Bank of America stock. Collin Wong-Martinusen agreed to a $2,500 penalty.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert