That message was made clear Thursday, when California's political watchdog agency fined a treasurer of a committee supporting decriminalization of prostitution $9,500 for violations of the state political laws that included improperly loaning committee funds to a strip club dancer with whom he had fallen in love.
The treasurer who made the loan, Luke Breit, said he believed at the time that his amour would use the money to pay an attorney for a child support case. He told investigators with the Fair Political Practices Commission in an interview that the woman, who he had met at a club called Centerfolds, "got a boob job and had another kid" and later denied he had loaned her $3,000 in cash. The money was never repaid.
A second treasurer managing the Californians for Privacy Committee, Michael Gunter, received an additional fine of $7,500 for using $10,000 of the committee's money to start his own business. He told investigators that he was having financial difficulties, according to a document outlining the circumstances of a case.
The investigation, which started when the secretary of state referred the committee to the agency for failing to file its financial statements, also found other issues with the group's bookkeeping. Breit addressed some of the inconsistencies in his interview with FPPC investigators, saying the committee did not identify contributors because its money was raised at cash-only "mixers" where "working ladies would come and, you know, the guys would come to meet them."
FPPC Chair Ann Ravel called the action "FPPC Staff's vote for the most amazing case involving improper use of campaign funds this year" in a tweet posted today.
The chief of the agency's enforcement division agreed.
"Actually, I think it is," Gary Winuk said in an interview. "I'd be hard-pressed to come up with another example."
PHOTO CREDIT: Associated Press file photo illustration