SACRAMENTO -- Launching a crackdown on stealth lobbying at the Capitol, the state’s ethics watchdog agency on Thursday imposed $43,800 in fines on lobbyists and their clients for not properly reporting their activity.
The state Fair Political Practices Commission cases include one that implicates one of the most influential government affairs firms in the state— California Strategies LLC. and some of its high-profile partners, including former state Assemblyman Rusty Areias.
Areias, Jason Kinney and Winston Hickox acknowledged that they failed to register as lobbyists and report their paid advocacy work for part of this year and last year on behalf of clients seeking favorable actions from state government.
Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel said the California Strategies case is “very significant” and is part of a new enforcement strategy.
“This is the first time that the commission has ever dealt with an issue like this of shadow lobbying and it was a proactive investigation that was done at the instigation of the [commission’s] enforcement division,” Ravel said.
“It is part of our emphasis now on looking at more significant matters that impact the public trust and this is exactly that kind of a case,” Ravel said.
California Strategies and its three lobbyists agreed to pay $40,500 in fines for failing to disclose lobbying in which they were paid $83,000 by firms including Focil-MB, a company managed by Mission Bay Development Group; Kaiser Ventures; Kaiser Eagle Mountain; and CE2 Carbon Capital LLC.
None of the clients were fined in that case.
In a separate case, the FPPC imposed a $2,500 fine against prominent lobbyist Barry Broad and his firm, Broad & Gusman, for failing to properly report $222,908 they received to lobby from July 1, through Sept. 30, 2012.
And in two other cases, clients paid a penalty. Property ID Corp. was fined $600 for failing to file on time a report on payments for lobbying services it made last year, while Performance Marketing Assn. was hit with a $200 fine for the same violation.