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Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
April 24, 2014

California’s political-ethics panel Thursday unanimously approved a $40,000 money-laundering penalty against state Sen. Tom Berryhill, agreeing with an administrative law judge’s recommended decision that the Twain Harte Republican committed “serious and deliberate” violations of campaign-finance rules.

The Fair Political Practices Commission announced the fine after a brief special meeting in Oakland conducted by telephone. Last week, the panel took the case under submission after hearing from the commission’s enforcement chief and Berryhill’s attorney.

Authorities allege that Berryhill, seeking to bypass contribution limits, colluded with his brother — former Assemblyman Bill Berryhill — and GOP central committees in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties to move $40,000 in Tom Berryhill campaign money into Bill Berryhill’s campaign in the days before the November 2008 election.

“The commission has unanimously voted to adopt the ALJ’s proposed decision with limited, minor and technical changes noted by the enforcement division,” Commissioner Eric Casher said after the closed session.

Chuck Bell, Berryhill’s attorney, called Thursday’s decision disappointing. The Berryhills and county committees never engaged in contribution earmarking and the administrative law judge applied the law incorrectly, he said.

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