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L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar fined $10,500 for campaign violations

December 13, 2012 | 12:46 pm

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, shown in 2011, was fined $10,500 over campaign violations. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission on Thursday fined City Councilman Jose Huizar $10,500 for paperwork violations committed during his 2011 reelection campaign.

On a 4-0 vote, the panel penalized Huizar for taking $2,000 in donations that exceeded the city's contribution limits and for failing to provide the public with copies of three campaign communications.

Under city law, candidates are required to submit to the Ethics Commission copies of all pieces of campaign literature, including glossy mailers and email blasts, that are distributed to more than 200 people.

Huizar attorney Stephen Kaufman said the councilman has taken "full responsibility" for the mistakes but noted that the excess contributions represented less than one half of one percent of his total contributions. Of the 39 campaign communications sent by Huizar, 36 were submitted in accordance with the city's ethics law, Kaufman said.

"It's impossible to achieve perfection in the context of these campaigns," Kaufman told the commission.

Huizar represents a district that includes Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock and downtown. The maximum fine he could have faced in Thursday's case is $35,000.

Although city officials described the violations in question as minor, Huizar received a financial penalty because he had a prior enforcement history with the Ethics Commission. Huizar was fined nearly $15,000 in 2008 for violations including the improper use of a fundraising committee that conducted political research on former school board member David Tokofsky.

In view of that previous incident, the commission voted Thursday to impose a fine of $1,500 per violation, or three times the amount normally assessed.

"People make mistakes, but this is an individual with a history of making mistakes," said Commissioner Valerie Vanaman.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, shown in 2011, was fined $10,500 over campaign violations. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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