Staffers at California’s Fair Political Practices Commission have proposed a $5,400 penalty for Rosario Marin, who accepted honoraria for speaking engagements while serving as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency.
Marin — also a former U.S. Treasurer under President George W. Bush and a 2004 Republican primary candidate for the U.S. Senate — resigned her $175,000-a-year state cabinet post in March, as the Los Angeles Times reported that pharmaceutical companies paid Marin for speeches within months of her agency’s push to reduce oversight of prescription drugs, including $15,000 from Pfizer Inc. and $13,500 from Bristol-Myers Squibb. Financial disclosure forms show Marin was paid at least $50,000 for appearances between April 2004 and the end of 2007.
According to the FPPC staff’s report, Marin received lousy legal advice:
Respondent Marin’s violation of the Act and its regulations involved detrimental reliance upon the assistance and counsel of no fewer than four department and agency attorneys who reviewed her statements of economic interests but did not identify the “predominant activity” standard that separated permissible from impermissible acceptance of honoraria for bona fide business activities that involved speechmaking.
As is the FPPC’s common practice, Marin already has agreed to the fine; the matter is on the agenda for the FPPC’s approval at its meeting June 18 in Sacramento.