SACRAMENTO -- The state ethics agency's proposed $133,500 fine of lobbyist Kevin Sloat for making improper campaign contributions to lawmakers has become an issue in the race for secretary of state.
One candidate for that office, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), was one of some 40 lawmakers and other officials who received warning letters saying that Sloat's payment of expenses at fundraisers amounted to improper campaign contributions.
However, none of the lawmakers faces a penalty after investigators for the state Fair Political Practices Commission concluded they did not know some expenses for wine, liquor and cigars were paid by Sloat.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State candidate Derek Cressman on Tuesday called on fellow candidate Padilla to return campaign contributions raised by Sloat.
Sloat's clients include PG&E, Cisco, Verizon, Direct TV and the San Francisco 49ers, and some of them have contributed to Padilla's various campaign committees. Cressman said the secretary of state needs to be above reproach.
"In that spirit, I urge you to take all steps possible to ensure that as a potential next chief elections officer you have the full confidence of all Californians," Cressman said. "Returning any funds raised by Mr. Sloat would be an important step toward that goal."
The Padilla camp rebuffed the request.
"We take campaign finance laws very seriously and make it a practice to comply fully with both the letter and the spirit of the law," said Rose Kapolczynski, a campaign consultant to Padilla.
"There is no indication from the FPPC that any of the contributions were improper and therefore we do not intend to return them," she added.