Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) responded this week to the fact that he was one of 37 state politicians who received warning letters from a state ethics agency for accepting improper campaign contributions.
An investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission found that the elected officials violated the state’s $500 cap on nonmonetary contributions when they attended fundraising parties at the residence of lobbyist Kevin Sloat.
The commission fined Sloat $133,500 last week for handouts such as free golf games, concert tickets and hosting gatherings where he provided wine, liquor, cigars, water and floral arrangements, said Jay Wierenga, communications director for the commission.
Sloat held more than 25 fundraisers at his home from 2009 to 2012.
Gatto attended one campaign fundraiser on April 4, 2011, and was invited to another on April 24, 2012.
However, Gatto said he did not attend the second fundraiser because he was speaking at an Armenian Genocide commemoration event. He still received a contribution check from the second event.
The commission will take no further action against state politicians because they paid for the catering and beverages and were not informed by Sloat that he had purchased additional refreshments, Wierenga said.
“Campaigns pay the bill that a caterer provides,” Gatto said in an email. “There is no way to know if someone gets additional food or beverages.”
The commission’s letter to Gatto went on to say his office acted appropriately with all other aspects of the fundraisers at Sloat’s home.
“It appears your campaign committee properly disclosed all other known contributions and expenditures associated with the event and the amount of Mr. Sloat’s contribution was relatively small,” the letter stated.
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