By Patrick McGreevy and Paige St. John
February 20, 2014, 10:51 a.m.
SACRAMENTO — An attorney who aided an investigation that resulted in fines against lobbyist Kevin Sloat said the settlement of the matter approved Thursday by the state Fair Political Practices Commission falls short and fails to address some of the most serious allegations involving elected officials.
“It’s not sufficient,” attorney Jesse Ortiz. “I think Mr. Sloat should be held accountable for all of his actions and not just some of them, which is what the FPPC decided to do.”
Ortiz represents Rhonda Smira, a former employee of Sloat’s lobbying firm who sued the lobbyist, claiming she was wrongly fired after complaining about illegal gifts and campaign contributions being made by the firm to a large number of members of the Legislature.
The lawsuit triggered an FPPC probe, and the panel Thursday approved a settlement that fines Sloat and his firm $133,500.
“With this case we have a proposed record lobbying-case fine,” Gary Winuk, the FPPC enforcement chief, told the commission. “We’ve increased our enforcement on the issue of lobbying.”
Commissioner Gavin Hachiya Wasserman noted that the case involved “quite a few” fundraisers.
Sloat admitted to making improper campaign contributions to 37 politicians in the form of expensive wine, liquor and cigars provided at fundraisers, as well improperly arranging gifts including sports tickets for three officials.
The elected officials who received improper contributions, including Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, are receiving warning letters after FPPC investigators determined they did not know that Sloat covered some fundraising expenses.
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