SBA Asks Campbell to Repay Conference Funds

Times Staff Writer

The Small Business Administration has asked state Sen. William R. Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights) to repay $49,300 that the SBA spent on a 1988 Campbell-sponsored conference on women’s issues, according to a federal watchdog agency.

The SBA wants its money back because it contends that Campbell violated an oral agreement with the SBA on the fee that the conference’s coordinator, a former Campbell aide, was to receive, according to a report released by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

The report does not say how much the organizer of the event was paid, nor did it give the figure that the SBA and Campbell purportedly had agreed on.

Although the SBA made the reimbursement request in January, Campbell had not repaid the money as of May 9, the report states.


While the report does not mention Campbell by name, an informed congressional source said that he is one of two unnamed California legislators to which the document refers. The other, who promptly returned $11,098 to the SBA after it made a similar complaint about a conference he sponsored, was identified by the source as state Sen. Ken Maddy (R-Fresno), a Campbell ally.

Campbell’s press secretary declined comment and referred all questions to John Costello, an accountant involved with the women’s conference. Costello did not return several telephone calls Friday.

Campbell’s 1988 Conference on Women, held in Anaheim, was coordinated by Karen L. Smith of Laguna Nigel, once Campbell’s top aide in Orange County. Smith had coordinated the 1987 conference in partnership with Campbell’s wife, Margene.

The GAO study of the SBA’s involvement in co-sponsoring events with private groups and public figures was requested by Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.).


Of the 161 events that the regional office of the SBA co-sponsored between April and September of last year, Campbell’s conference received the greatest subsidy, according to the report. The $49,300 was used to print and mail promotional and other material for the conference, one of several that Campbell has sponsored in recent years.

Only two of the events co-sponsored by the SBA, those involving Campbell and Maddy, were organized by public officials, the GAO said. Most of the rest were sponsored by nonprofit organizations, while 20 were put on by for-profit concerns.