Calif. Senate supports banning fundraisers in lobbyists' homes

Calif. Senate supports banning fundraisers in lobbyists' homes
State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), shown at a recent hearing, won approval Monday of a bill banning political fundraisers at the homes and offices of Capitol lobbyists. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

The state Senate on Monday voted unanimously to ban state politicians from holding political fundraisers in the homes and offices of lobbyists, three months after a scandal involving the practice.

The measure by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) is the first of a package of ethics bills proposed in recent months and is in reaction to a record $133,500 fine against Capitol lobbyist Kevin Sloat in February.

Sloat admitted violating campaign finance rules by providing expensive wine, cigars and liquor to fundraisers in his home for 37 politicians, including Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar.

"As public servants we have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the offices we serve in," Lara said, adding that allowing fundraisers in lobbyist homes "only serves to create ambiguity and weaken the rules that govern our conduct."

The Senate voted 33 to 0 to approve SB 1441 and send it to the Assembly, which last week approved a similar bill.

Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), who served on an ethics working group with Lara that drafted the Senate bill, said it is needed to end “an activity that may have the appearance of impropriety.”