California Lobbyist Assessed Record Fine


     (CN) - A Sacramento lobbyist who worked for the San Francisco 49ers and Pacific Gas and Electric will pay a record $133,500 fine for providing alcohol and cigars at political fund-raisers, California's Fair Political Practices Committee said.
     Kevin Sloat and his firm Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates violated the state's Political Reform Act by giving gifts to dozens of elected officials, the FPPC said.
     Sloat held political fund-raisers at his home in Sacramento where he provided wine, liquor and cigars, according to a settlement agreement with the FPPC.
     "State law has strict rules regarding lobbyists making contributions," said Gary Winuk, chief of enforcement for the watchdog agency. "The FPPC enforces those rules vigorously and this proposed fine is the largest ever for a lobbyist case in the history of California."
     The FPPC sent warning letters to elected officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker John Perez, who benefited from Sloat's fund-raisers.
     "Contributions and gifts from lobbyists may influence an official to make decisions based on the interest of the lobbyist's clients, instead of, and potentially in conflict with, the interests of the public whom the official represents," the settlement states.
     Sloan said in a statement that is firm "failed in our obligations to be as vigilant as possible in complying with state political reform laws."
     He said his firm will enforce "enhanced internal measures designed to prevent any future administrative violations."
     The commission will vote on the fine at its Feb. 20 meeting.