Westly, committee, treasurer to pay FPPC fine

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission will consider Thursday whether to sign off on a $104,500 fine paid by former state Controller and 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary candidate Steve Westly, his campaign committee, and committee treasurer Kinde Durkee.

Documents show the FPPC leveled against Westly, the committee and the treasurer 29 counts of failing to report or timely report required subvendor information for payments made by the committee; two counts of failing to report accrued expenses; and one count of failing to report expenditures paid to the treasurer’s firm, Durkee & Associates.

FPPC Executive Director Roman Porter says that, per the usual procedure, a check for the penalty already has been cut as part of this stipulated agreement, to be deposited into the General Fund if the commission approves the deal Thursday.

Durkee, based in Burbank, is a big-time name in managing money for Democratic campaigns: among her many other clients have been Secretary of State Debra Bowen and a ton of Southern California state lawmakers, Democratic clubs, PACs and ballot measure committees.

But this isn’t the only trouble Durkee potentially faces. The San Diego Union Tribune recently reported that former state Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, has asked the FPPC and the Attorney General’s office to investigate the suspected embezzlement of more than $57,000 and other possible financial irregularities found during a routine audit of her 2006 campaign account; Kehoe also fired Durkee for allegedly failing to report 29 suspected check forgeries by one of the company’s employees.


$5,400 fine proposed for Rosario Marin

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.


What Don Perata said about the FBI probe

With all the hubbub about the FBI taking evidence against former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata to federal prosecutors in Sacramento now that federal prosecutors in San Francisco have decided after four years not to file any charges, I figured I’d ask the Don himself when I saw him in court yesterday on an unrelated matter.

Perata said the FBI’s action, and Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown‘s agreement to review the case after his peers in San Francisco tracked it for years and then took a pass on it, “seems to be unprecedented,” something he chalks up to there being “nobody in charge” as the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys shift between administrations.

“It has to play itself out,” he said, noting he’s at least glad that federal prosecutors in San Francisco broke with tradition and actually told him there would be no indictment here; usually these things just die in silence. So far, Perata said, nobody at Justice or in Congress has responded to his attorneys’ letters asking for an investigation of this attempted change of venue.

What letters, you ask? These letters:

  • a Feb. 26 letter from Elliot Peters (the attorney representing Don Perata’s son, Nick Perata) to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder;
  • a March 4 letter from George O’Connell (Don Perata’s attorney) to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and committee members Zoe Lofrgen, D-San Jose, and Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood;
  • a March 11 letter from O’Connell to U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine; and
  • a March 11 letter from O’Connell to Brown and to U.S. Justice Department Public Integrity Section chief Eric Olshan.