Assembly members Pedro Nava and Audra Strickland are among 38 state senators and Assembly members who reportedly failed to report gifts, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
Letters were sent Dec. 16 to the politicians and some members of their staffs. Failure to report gifts is a violation of the Political Reform Act. Lobbyist employers file with the Secretary of State’s Office, which is how the gift reporting discrepancies were discovered.
The letters refer to gifts given and received in 2008, as filed by politicians last year in their statements of economic interests.
If politicians don’t believe they violated the act, they were allowed to notify the FPPC in writing by Jan. 8. After the investigations, the FPPC will decide whether each legislator violated the gift limit, which can carry a penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation.
“Please be advised, however, that the fact that you might not have been aware of your gift reporting obligations does not relieve you of your legal obligations,” stated the letters, obtained by Noozhawk through the Public Records Act. “If we determine that you violated the gift limit, we will notify you of the determination.”
Most of the unreported gifts were for dinners, receptions, travel expenses, or tickets to concerts or sports games.
The gifts listed for Nava, D-Santa Barbara, included a $94.46 dinner and $153.63 in reception and travel costs from Bank of America Corp. Unreported gifts to Strickland, R-Moorpark, were Billy Joel tickets for $82.50.
The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians was one of the most frequently listed entities for unreported gifts, including Nava’s dinner and Strickland’s tickets.
Sen. Gloria McLeod, D-Montclair, who sent an amendment of her reported gifts to the FPPC on Jan. 6, said she was unaware that the April 2008 dinner she attended was sponsored by the group.
“I never received a letter of notification of a reportable gift,” she wrote in her amendment. “Had I been notified on the invitation or in a letter, I surely would have reported this gift in the original filing of my report.”
The dollar amounts of the unreported gifts ranged from as low as $50 to a few thousand dollars.
Assemblyman Thomas Berryhill, R-Modesto, failed to report tickets to a Keith Urban concert, the Sacramento Kings, Sea World San Diego and Disneyland, according to FPPC documents.
Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, reportedly failed to list gifts that included meals, tickets and lodging for him and his wife totaling about $2,360. Since his and his wife’s gifts by the Association of California Life & Health Insurance Co. were received on the same day, it was assumed he had at least partially benefited from the $1,077 in meals and a spa gift attributed to his wife, the letter said.
The FPPC was created in 1974 by the Political Reform Act and regulates lobbyist reporting as well as campaign financing, gift giving and mass mailings at public expense.
— Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.