State Sen. Wright fined for not reporting gift of foreign travel
State Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) has agreed to pay a $200 fine for failing to report a gift of more than $13,000 in travel provided by a nonprofit that paid his expenses to get a master’s degree in international relations.
The fine was proposed by the enforcement staff of the state Fair Political Practices Commission for travel expenses paid for by the Legislative Leadership Institute in 2009.
In all, the Wisconsin-based institute provided $42,767 in expenses for Wright as he flew to Rwanda, Switzerland and Ireland in the last three years for research with other public officials chosen by the institute to get a master of arts degree in international relations from Irish American University in Dublin.
The institute’s website said it was the creation of former legislators, business leaders and senior military leaders and is aimed at helping public officials "wishing to further their foreign policy expertise and expand their network of global contacts at key points in their public service."
The website does not say who bankrolls the institute and representatives did not return calls for information. The board of advisors includes Jeannette Kagame, the first lady of Rwanda.
Wright said the fellowship program helped him better understand how to resolve conflicts, something he said he can apply when dealing with stubborn Republican colleagues.
The senator said the failure to disclose the first year of the expenses was inadvertent. "The fellowship group is not a political group and so neither they nor I had any indication that anything should be filed,’’ he said.
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Photo: State Sen. Roderick Wright has agreed to pay a $200 fine to the state ethics watchdog agency for failing to report a $13,000 gift of foreign travel from a nonprofit group. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press.