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FPPC clears Fabian Nunez of two complaints

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission has cleared former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, of accusations that he illegally lived high on the hog using campaign funds and funneled contributions through a nonprofit organization.

One FPPC letter to Nunez dated Oct. 14 deals with a complaint the commission received two years ago alleging that his and his committee’s spending “appeared inappropriate and were in violation of the personal use provisions of the Political Reform Act.” That complaint had included detailed listings of more than $155,000 in spending between January 2005 and June 2007.

Several days before this complaint was filed, the Los Angeles Times had run an article detailing some of Nunez’ spending at high-end restaurants, hotels and boutiques around the world.

The letter says the FPPC reviewed the complaint’s information, and notes that the Franchise Tax Board had audited Nunez’ campaign statements for January 2004 through December 2006, making no findings of impropriety.

“Based on our review, it appeared likely that the expenditures identified in the complaint were legitimate and would not violate the personal use laws,” the letter says. “Expenditures for items such as florists, food, gifts, meetings, fundraising and travel are routinely made by many candidates and officeholders using campaign funds, and these expenditures are reasonably related to a political, legislative or governmental purpose. For expenditures that may have conferred a substantial personal benefit on you, we determined that it appeared likely or that you would be able to establish that these expenditures were directly related to a political, legislative or governmental purpose.”

Based on that, the letter says, the FPPC didn’t conduct an in-depth investigation and has now closed its file on the matter.

In another Oct. 14 letter, the FPPC said it also has closed its file on a 2008 complaint that Nunez violated the Political Reform Act’s contribution-limit provisions in 2005 and 2006 with payments made through a nonprofit called Collective Space Inc. The complaint claimed some contributors who’d already maxed out their legal contributions to Nunez gave more money through the nonprofit for charitable events featuring Nunez and benefiting him politically.

This letter says the FPPC’s review found payments were made to Collective Space at Nunez’ behest even while he and his staff were involved with its events, but “this is not prohibited, and the Speaker’s or his staff’s involvement in the event, or the inclusion of the Speaker’s name in a charity event or its advertising, would not violate the Act or cause the payments to Collective Space to qualify as contributions.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    I sleep so much better at night knowing that the FPPC is protecting me against scumbags like Nunez.

  • TruthSquad

    Hey Elwood — What part of “CLEARED” don’t you understand?

    No taxpayer funds were used, and the expenses for gifts for staff and fellow legislators were perfectly leader.

    Nunez gave us the nation’s first greenhouse gas emissions regulations, raised the minimum wage, and on-time, balanced budgets. Hands down the best Speaker since term limits.

  • Elwood

    Cleared simply means that they didn’t have enough evidence to convict him.

    It’s not a declaration of innocence.