California ethics panel fines state senator, foes of Proposition 8
The state's ethics watchdog agency gave final approval Thursday to fines against 15 public officials and campaigns for violations of state rules, including levies against state Sen. Roderick Wright and three political committees that fought a 2008 ballot measure banning gay marriage in California.
The state Fair Political Practices Commission voted unanimously to impose a combined $80,000 in fines against the three groups that fought the gay-marriage measure: No on 8 -- Equality for All, the Human Rights Campaign California Marriage PAC, and the Equality California Issues PAC.
The three committees admitted that they failed to meet deadlines for reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions they received. Proposition 8 stirred passions nationally, and the committees struggled to process thousands of small contributions sent in from all over the country, campaign officials said. The Human Rights Campaign committee made a "good-faith effort'' to comply, said spokesman Michael Cole Schwartz.
Last month, the commission imposed $49,000 in fines against ProtectMarriage.com -- Yes on 8 for failing to properly report more than $1 million in contributions.
The panel also voted Thursday to approve a $200 penalty against Wright for failing to report a gift of more than $13,000 in travel provided by a nonprofit that paid the Inglewood Democrat's expenses to get a master's degree in international relations.
Wright said he and the Wisconsin-based Legislative Leadership Institute were not aware that the travel expenses had to be reported as gifts.
Photo: Steve Ledoux, left, and his spouse, Mark Becktold, who were married before Proposition 8 was passed, are shown in February celebrating an appellate panel ruling striking down the measure. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times