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State ethics watchdog investigating claims that L.A. assemblyman coordinated with independent expenditure committee

The state Fair Political Practices Commission has opened an investigation into the campaign practices of Assemblyman David Hadley. (Handout)
The state Fair Political Practices Commission has opened an investigation into the campaign practices of Assemblyman David Hadley. (Handout)

The California Fair Political Practices Commission confirmed it is investigating allegations that Assemblyman David Hadley illegally coordinated with an independent expenditure committee supporting him.

In a letter to the Hadley campaign, the FPPC said it has "not made any determination about the allegations" made in a complaint filed three weeks ago, but that a "full investigation" has been opened.

Hadley's opponent, Democrat Al Muratsuchi, filed the complaint, which alleged that Hadley consultant Steven Presson was also being paid by Spirit of Democracy, a political committee funded largely by Republican donor Charles Munger Jr.

On the same day Spirit of Democracy first reported spending money to support Hadley, Presson refunded his $4,000 in consulting fees to the committee. The Hadley campaign has paid Presson $35,000 so far this election cycle.

State law prohibits candidates' official campaigns from coordinating with independent expenditure committees, which are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. The rules governing coordination were tightened last year, and now presume coordination is occurring when committees share a consultant.

A spokesman for Hadley's campaign confirmed it had received the letter, but declined to comment further on the matter.

There's no indication of whether the ethics panel will complete its investigation before the contentious Nov. 8 election between Muratsuchi and Hadley, who are battling over the beach town swing district in the Los Angeles South Bay. Most FPPC investigations are concluded within 6 months, said spokesman Jay Wierenga.

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