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Watchdog agency to investigate state athletic commission

September 18, 2009 |  3:22 pm

California’s ethics watchdog agency today opened an investigation into members of the California State Athletic Commission, in connection with free event admission that board members obtained for themselves, friends and associates.
 
The Times reported today that the athletic commission, which oversees boxing and mixed martial arts, had requested that promoters whom they license and regulate provide admission to events for themselves and more than 50 people who did not work for the agency over the last year and a half. Most of the guests were friends and associates of the commissioners.

Most of the free admission was not reported as gifts to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, a state ethics agency that can fine high-ranking officials who violate state law requiring that gifts are disclosed and do not exceed annual limits.

“Based on the information in The Times article, the [Fair Political Practices] Commission will be investigating the activities of the athletic commission,” said Roman Porter, the ethics agency's executive director.

Those invited included actor Sylvester Stallone, who is a friend of Commission Chairman Timothy Noonan; John Cruz, a high-ranking aide to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; a church pastor; and other friends and relatives.

Gov. Schwarzenegger and his son sat next to Stallone at a January fight for which tickets cost up to $300. Six of the seven commissioners were appointed by Schwarzenegger.
 
In a statement, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman, Matt David, said, “We fully support their investigation and will demand compliance with their findings.”

Erin Shaw, a spokeswoman for the athletic commission, said she had “nothing further” to add to the statement from the governor’s office.

-- Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento

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