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Ferguson to Pay Fine for Campaign Loan

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach) has agreed to pay a $6,000 fine to settle a case with the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which accused him of failing to promptly and clearly disclose $22,000 in personal loans he and his wife made to his failed state Senate campaign in 1990.

The FPPC contended that Ferguson violated state election laws by failing to disclose the loans within 24 hours as required. When he finally revealed six months later that his campaign had received the money, Ferguson failed to report that the loans had come from him and his wife, the FPPC alleged.

Ferguson on Wednesday played down the fine, saying he agreed to pay it only because he felt it wouldn’t have been worth fighting the charges.

“The whole thing is a matter of dotting i’s and crossing t’s,” Ferguson said. “The harm that’s done by the FPPC is political harm. I think I would have won the case if I had taken it to court, but it would have just kept my name in the papers for six months. I would have won the case, but I would lose on the publicity.”

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The matter stemmed from a special election in February, 1990, to fill the Senate seat of Bill Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights), who had resigned. Then-Assemblyman Frank Hill (R-Whittier) won the election.

In the closing days of the campaign, Ferguson and his wife made loans for a last-minute mass mailing.

Instead of submitting the money directly to the Senate campaign, the loans were issued to Ferguson’s Assembly campaign, which then transferred the payment to his Senate coffers, according to an FPPC report. Ferguson later told the FPPC that he reasoned at the time that it would be easier to pay himself back from his Assembly campaign fund if he lost the Senate race.

The FPPC said Ferguson failed to report the last-minute loans within 24 hours as required by law. Such last-minute disclosures are an “important part” of state campaign finance law because they allow the public to remain appraised of heavy contributions that could affect the outcome of an election, the FPPC said in its report.

In addition, Ferguson failed to file a “timely” campaign statement, the agency said, noting that Ferguson’s report on campaign contributions from the February, 1990, race was filed in August of that year.

The contribution report that was eventually submitted said that the loans came from Ferguson’s Assembly campaign coffers, when the true source was Ferguson and his wife, the FPPC said. The loans were not properly reported as required by law, the agency said.


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