The Fair Political Practices Commission, California's political ethics panel, gave its stamp of approval to a number of high-profile settlements Thursday, including a record $60,000 penalty leveled against a former lawmaker for misusing campaign funds on personal airfare, dining and concert tickets.
Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, D-Shafter, also failed to refund $247,000 in general election contributions from his 2010 abandoned run for lieutenant governor.
Gary Winuk, chief of the enforcement division for the FPPC, said cases involving elected officials using campaign money to enrich their lifestyles are among the most serious.
"It's a betrayal to donors and to also to the public," Winuk said.
Florez did not immediately responded to a message seeking comment Thursday.
The FPPC also approved a settlement with Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, in which he refunded $21,092 in over-the-limit contributions from the independent expenditure group Voters for a New California for illegal campaign coordination.
Separately, former Assemblyman Mike Roos, D-Los Angeles, agreed to a $3,000 fine for making contributions to Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic Sens. Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento and Alex Padilla of Los Angeles. California law forbids registered lobbyists, which Roos was from 2007 through last year, from donating to state campaigns.
In another matter, the FPPC's investigation into 221 officials across the state has so far yielded 86 penalties against those who failed to properly document gifts they received. The case involved four Sacramento-area school officials accepting free meals from bond advisers that were not disclosed.
Included in the settlement were Sacramento City Unified School District trustee Diana Rodriguez ($400); former Sacramento City Unified School District trustee Roy Grimes, ($200); Brian Rivas, vice president of the Sacramento County Board of Education ($200); and former Roseville City School District board member Rene Aguilera ($200).
In a money laundering case, Tim Do, also known as Thinh Thien Do, was fined $5,000 for using intermediaries to conceal a $5,000 contribution to Sacramento City Councilman Kevin McCarty's 2010 Assembly campaign. McCarty finished a close second in the primary to then-Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson.
Editor's Note: This post and headline has been updated to remove a reference that Assemblyman Luis Alejo was fined. His committee was required to repay $21,092 the FPPC determined was illegally donated to his campaign by his campaign consultant. Updated at 2 p.m. Nov. 18, 2013.
PHOTO: Fair Political Practices Commission members Gavin Hachiya Wasserman, Sean Eskovitz , former Chairwoman Ann Ravel, Eric S. Casher, and Patricia Wynne at a meeting in September. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua