Calif. Republican Fined for Campaign Laundering

     SACRAMENTO (CN) — Former California state senator and chair of a pro-Donald Trump super PAC Tony Strickland on Thursday settled claims that he skirted campaign donation laws during his unsuccessful 2010 state controller bid.
     The Southern California Republican settled a six-year California Fair Political Practices Commission investigation, agreeing to pay a $40,000 fine for his role in laundering campaign donations in order to evade state contribution limits.
     According to the settlement, Strickland asked donors to evade state contribution limits by routing their donations through the Ventura County Republican Party and the Stanislaus County Republican Central Committee. The donations were then funneled by the committees back into Strickland’s campaign and the original donors were able to remain anonymous.
     The scheme resulted in $65,000 in illegal donations to Strickland’s failed 2010 campaign against John Chiang.
     The political watchdog initially proposed an $80,000 penalty, but relented once Strickland admitted his role in the campaign finance violations by reducing the number of charges from 16 to eight.
     The Stanislaus Republican Central Committee was fined $10,000 by the regulator in March for violating the Political Reform Act, while the Ventura County Republican Party has refused to settle with the commission.
     “We are pleased Mr. Strickland accepted responsibility for the violations. The maximum fine imposed sends a message that this type of activity will be aggressively prosecuted and will not be tolerated,” Galena West, commission chief of enforcement, said in an email.
     Strickland said in a statement that he didn’t solicit his own party donations and that it was in his “best interest to settle.”
     While the commission agreed to settle with Strickland, it says he and the campaign donors did not cooperate with the investigation or its subpoenas and called their violations “egregious.”
     “None appeared, and their attorney failed to respond to telephone and email inquiries regarding the interviews,” according to the settlement.
     Strickland served in both the state Assembly and Senate and earlier this month he became the chair of a pro-Trump PAC, the Committee for American Sovereignty. The group has said it hopes to raise more than $20 million for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee this summer.
     The commission approved 28 separate penalties on Thursday totaling more than $71,000. The enforcement penalties are directed to the state’s general fund.

%d bloggers like this: