A major Sacramento-based lobbyist and his firm have been fined a record $133,500 for throwing fundraisers for politicians and candidates – parties that violated the state’s laws governing gifts and campaign donations to public officials.
The enforcement arm of the state’s Fair Political Practice Commission posted the settlement agreement with lobbyist Kevin Sloat and the firm, Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates, on the FPPC web site on Monday. A copy of the settlement, which received Sloat’s agreement, can be viewed here.
The fine is the largest ever levied against a lobbyist of lobbying firm in the state’s history, according to FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga.
According to the FPPC, Sloat threw parties at his house for political figures and his clients and would “provide guests with wine, spirits, beer, soft drinks and water, in varying amounts, for which he was not reimbursed by the elected official/candidate.”
The 30-count settlement included gatherings attended by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders.
The FPPC noted that “there was no evidence that any of candidates or elected officers who benefited from the fundraisers were notified or made aware that they received contributions…”
The violation of campaign rules involved nonmonetary contributions, which typically are the costs of hosting fundraising events, not direct payments to a political campaign, as well as gifts.
The settlement, which requires final approval of the full commission, resolved negotiations between Sloat and the FPPC, which enforces California’s campaign finance laws in the Political Reform Act. The Act, nearly 40 years old, was spawned by the Watergate-era violations.
California law bars lobbyists from contributing to the campaigns of people the lobbyist is registered to influence and from donating gifts worth $10 or more.
The settlement covers events dating back to the spring of 2009 and continuing through the fall of 2012, according to a timeline provided by the FPPC.
Sloat and the firm “violated the Act by making nonmonetary contributions to elected state officers and making and arranging gifts to state officers that exceeded the $10 limit,” settlement said.
Sloat, a former aide to Gov. Pete Wilson during the 1990s, and his firm are well known in the Capitol. The firm’s client list includes Anheuser-Busch, Bristol-Myers Squibb, California Medical Association, California Trucking Association, Cisco Systems, PG&E, and the CSU Chancell’s office.