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Assemblyman Chris Norby may face new ethics hearing on motel stay

March 26, 2012 |  2:09 pm

GetprevState Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) may not be out of the doghouse with the state ethics agency over his use of campaign funds to stay in an Orange County motel, even after an administrative law judge said his action was proper.

The enforcement division of the state Fair Political Practices Commission recommended in documents released Monday that the panel "reject the proposed decision"  of the judge and instead decide the case itself based on the evidence.

The division has accused Norby of improper use of campaign funds for personal benefit when he was on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2007, noting he billed the campaign for his move into a motel while he was having marital difficulties.

"On August 1, 2007, Respondent Norby separated from his third wife and paid $340, in advance, for one week of lodging at the Fullerton A Inn in Fullerton, California," according to the enforcement staff’s opening brief for a new hearing by the panel. Norby later had his campaign reimburse him for the motel stay.

Administrative Law Judge Ralph B. Dash decided after a hearing  that the allegations should be dismissed, believing that Norby stayed in the motel as part of his study of homelessness. Dash said the Fullerton A Inn is a refuge for transients and the homeless.

"One would be hard-pressed to find any 'personal' reason to stay there if it was not necessary to do so," Dash said in his opinion. "The only reasonable conclusion to be reached, based on all the evidence, is that Norby’s stay of a few nights at the motel was for the purpose he claimed it to be...." Norby later reimbursed his campaign for the motel expenses, and stayed at his house on occasions after the official separation date,  the judge noted.

The commission is scheduled to meet April 5 to consider the enforcement staff recommendation.


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 -- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Assemblyman Chris Norby denies he misused campaign funds. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times