[Originally published 1/21/2010. Updated 1/25 with response from Walters' office]
Today's Supreme Court decision striking down bans on political expenditures from corporations seems like a monumental development–especially in light of how closely regulated political expenditures are in California.
Case in point: The Sacramento Bee reported today that 38 state lawmakers were sent letters by the Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to report political gifts in 2008. Few of the gifts top more than a couple-hundred dollars, and many of the violations appeared to have been inadvertent.
Among the lawmakers reprimanded by the FPPC: State Senators Mimi Walters and Robert Huff, both of whom represent portions of Orange County.
Walters (R-Laguna Niguel) failed to report “$100 for
unspecified event tickets from AT&T, and $152 in food and beverages
from California Professional Firefighters.” Huff
(R-Yorba Linda) was dinged for not reporting “$170 for airport parking
and shuttle service from the City of Los Angeles.”
Huff spokesperson Junay Gardner told the Weekly that the Huff violation came because a letter from the City of Los Angeles had been misfiled. The FPPC fined Huff $200, which Azari says the Huff camp paid.
. The Secretary of State's website shows that AT&T contributed $1,850 to Walters' war chest in 2009 alone; with that on top of the unreported gift, it appears Walters has a friend in the telecommunications industry.
Walter's office hasn't returned a phone call asking for comment
We're wondering what the the “unspecified event” was that AT&T paid for. Fingers crossed that it was a Creed concert. That would be a revelation!
Update 1/25: Sen. Walters' Chief of Staff Gina Zari says the FPPC has rescinded the notices of violation. The California Professional Firefighters gift came in the form of a dinner that Walters thought had been provided by the Senate itself. The AT&T event wasn't attended by Walters. As long as the senator's office amends its conflict of interest statement, Zari says, there will be no fine to pay.