California Pols Fined for Ethics Violations

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – A California state senator was fined $23,000 Thursday and a fashion company executive $76,650 for laundering campaign money.
     The $164,000 in fines handed out by the Fair Political Practices Commission, California’s ethics watchdog, included some of its largest penalties of the year.
     State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, was fined $23,000 for laundering a campaign donation to an Assembly candidate in 2012. Facing a maximum $30,000 fine, Gerber settled with FPPC, which unanimously agreed to the $23,000 fine.
     Nielsen gave an illegal $4,000 donation to Assembly candidate Robert A. Williams in 2012 through the Tehama County Republican Central Committee. Nielsen also admitted he wrongfully accepted free sports tickets from the consulting firm Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates.
     The Sacramento consulting firm paid a record $133,500 FPPC fine in 2014.
     Nielsen could not be reached for comment after hours Thursday.
     Los Angeles area CEO and Korean activist Moo Han Bae was fined $76,650 for hosting several fund raisers for 2013 Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel. Bae violated the Political Reform Act by making nine donations to Greuel in the names of other people in 2013.
     Bae will pay the state $22,500 and Los Angeles $54,150.
     State Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, chairman of the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments, was fined $4,000 for accepting free rent for a 2014 campaign office in Santa Monica.
     Allen’s office could not be reached after hours Thursday.
     Joe Coto, a former three-term assemblyman from Fresno, was fined $16,000 for failing to disclose campaign expenditures during his unsuccessful run for the Assembly in 2012.
     Margaret Salazar, director of a migrant education program in San Joaquin County, was fined $40,000 for conflicts of interest. The FPPC said she used education money to hire catering and janitorial companies in which she had an economic interest.

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