Capitol Alert: FPPC upholds $40,000 penalty against Sen. Tom Berryhill
04/24/2014 3:39 PM
04/24/2014 3:51 PM
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.
Thursday's outcome has significant implications for campaign finance, especially for the millions of political dollars that flow through Republican and Democratic committees before arriving in candidates' treasuries. Commission enforcement chief Gary Winuk said the outcome makes it clear that coordinating the money moves is illegal. But Berryhill's attorney, Charles M. Bell, said the outcome makes the rules more confounding.
Berryhill is the fourth senator facing serious ethical problems. State sens. Ron Calderon and Leland Yee have been indicted on corruption and other charges, and state Sen. Ron Calderon is appealing his conviction for flying about his residence when he ran for office in 2008. The Senate has suspended the three senators.
Editor's Choice Videos
Join the Discussion
Merced Sun-Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.