Fallout from the FPPC’s investigation of lobbyist Kevin Sloat continued to hit Sacramento on Monday, as the political watchdog announced reaching related settlements with Assemblyman Adam Gray, Assembly administrator Debra Gravert and an Indian tribe that is a client of the Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates lobbying firm.
The Fair Political Practices Commission announced Sloat’s record-setting fine of $133,500 in February, saying he acknowledged breaking the law by providing lavish hospitality when he hosted political fundraisers at his home and by arranging tickets to sports games for public officials. At the time, Sloat was the lobbyist for the San Francisco 49ers. State law forbids lobbyists from giving gifts to state officials of more than $10 a month – or arranging for such gifts to be made. Sloat’s settlement said he had arranged for the 49ers and another client, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, to give tickets to two lawmakers and a chief of staff.
In a new settlement made public on Monday, Gravert, the Assembly’s chief administrative officer, agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and acknowledged that she received a gift of 49ers tickets that was inappropriately arranged by Sloat’s firm. Gravert reported receiving tickets worth $358 from the 49ers on her annual gift report for 2012, when she worked as the chief of staff to Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley.
“The Forty Niners gave the tickets to (Gravert) at no cost. The lobbying firm Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates arranged the gift by contacting the Forty Niners in order to obtain the tickets for (Gravert),” says an exhibit attached to the settlement Gravert reached with the FPPC.
Also made public on Monday was a settlement between the FPPC and the Yocha Dehe tribe, which runs the Cache Creek casino and golf resort in Yolo County. The tribe, a Sloat client, agreed to pay a fine of $9,000 for hosting campaign fundraisers for four politicians and not reporting the free golf rounds it provided as non-monetary political contributions.
The tribe’s settlement with the FPPC says it gave free golf rounds that were not properly reported to Sen. Alex Padilla and Assemblymen Adam Gray and Joe Coto for fundraising events in 2010 and 2011. It also says the tribe gave Sen. Ron Calderon a contribution over the $7,800 limit in effect at the time when it hosted a fundraiser for him in 2009. The tribe donated $6,325 worth of golf to Calderon’s campaign, the settlement says, and also gave him a cash contribution of $3,000. Together, the golf and cash donations exceeded the limit.
Calderon, a Montebello Democrat well-known for time spent on the golf course, was suspended from the Senate in March after federal prosecutors charged him with taking bribes in an undercover corruption sting.
Gray, a Democratic assemblyman from Merced who earlier worked as a Calderon staffer, agreed with the FPPC to pay a $2,000 fine for not reporting $1,900 worth of golf Yocha Dehe contributed to his campaign during a fundraiser at the tribe’s casino in December 2011.
Coto reported receiving the golf rounds from the tribe, and the FPPC is pursuing cases against Padilla and Calderon for not reporting Yocha Dehe’s golf contributions, said FPPC enforcement chief Gary Winuk.
The full board of the FPPC meets Aug. 21 to vote on the proposed fines.
Yocha Dehe’s acknowledgment that it provided free golf rounds for political fundraisers without reporting them as non-monetary political contributions echoes some of the allegations in a lawsuit filed late last year by a former Sloat employee. In her wrongful termination suit, Rhonda Smira alleged that lawmakers were treated to complimentary golf at a course owned by an Indian tribe that was a Sloat client.