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CalPERS board member Charles Valdes has admitted he violated state campaign finance laws by accepting contributions that exceeded legal limits and will pay a $12,500 fine to settle the case, the state's political watchdog said Monday.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission announced details of its settlement with Valdes and his campaign treasurer, Billy Joe Hughes, by posting them on the Web.

FPPC commissioners must still approve the agreement and fine at a Dec. 10 meeting.

In late 2005, the Valdes campaign accepted five contributions that exceeded limits from people employed by or associated with Nevada-based pension fund placement agent Alfred Villalobos, who has earned more than $60 million for securing deals with CalPERS for investment firms across the country.

Dealings by pension fund placement agents like Villalobos are now under investigation by attorneys general in at least three states, while Villalobos's dealings with CalPERS are the subject of a review by an outside law firm hired by the giant public pension fund.

The settlement states that Valdes and Hughes each acknowledged accepting five campaign contributions for Valdes' 2005 CalPES re-election campaign that each exceeded the $3,300 limit for a CalPERS board member.

The FPPC decided a $2,500 administrative per breach was appropriate, the settlement states. Valdes signed his settlement Oct. 28.

Valdes and Hughes stated that they had mistakenly believed the $5,600 statewide elective office limit applied for PERS board candidates. Hughes told the FPPC he had no experience with campaign finance laws before he volunteered to be Valdes' treasurer.

The limit for a CalPERS board member election was $3,300.

FPPC executive director Roman Porter said the commission's audit and investigation looked only at whether the donations Valdes receieved were within limits, not whether the donations were intended to sway Valdes to favor deals involving Villalobos' clients.

More details are available here. 



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