Sen. Calderon Fined $15,000 for Funds Misuse : Ethics: State watchdog agency finds improper use of campaign chest for such things as tennis togs and his son's birthday party.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The state's political watchdog agency has fined state Sen. Charles M. Calderon $15,000 for improperly dipping into his campaign treasury to pay for personal tennis togs, entertainment at his son's birthday party and his wife's modeling photographs.

The Fair Political Practices Commission also levied the fine against the Whittier Democrat because in 1990 and 1991 he failed to properly report $32,000 in payments made to a campaign consultant.

In documents released this week, the agency's staff said that Calderon, as a veteran lawmaker, "should have known of the reporting requirements and the personal use limitations" of the state's Political Reform Act.

Calderon, who is seeking reelection in November, was vacationing Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

But in a settlement agreement released by the commission's executive director, Wayne Ordos, Calderon agreed to pay the $15,000 fine. The commission is expected to review the settlement at its Oct. 6 meeting. Calderon can pay the fine out of his campaign funds.

Under state law, "campaign funds shall not be used to make personal gifts unless the gift is directly related to a political, legislative or governmental purpose."

The 12 violations cited by the commission occurred in 1990 and 1991, when Calderon was sucessfully running for his Senate seat and later losing a bid for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

In a summary of the case, the commission staff said that in January, 1990, Calderon inappropriately spent $298.90 on photographs for his then-wife, Jeannine. The onetime aspiring fashion model told the commission the pictures were "modeling photographs."

The following October, Calderon improperly paid $210 in campaign funds for a costumed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle to appear at his son's birthday party, according to the case summary.

Two months later, in December, 1990, Calderon's campaign committee reported a $422.24 credit card purchase from Nordstrom listed as "gifts." The commission reported that Calderon said "he purchased a tennis outfit and tennis shoes for himself for a celebrity tennis tournament and purchased tennis shoes as a gift for a campaign contributor and organizer of the tennis event."

But the commission staff said the purchase was not directly related to a political, legislative or governmental purpose as required by the law.

Nine of the counts against Calderon revolve around his failure to properly disclose $32,000 in payments to campaign aide Yvette Rodriquez.

On state-required documents, Calderon disclosed that the money went to a consulting firm owned by his brother, Tom, according to Jeanette Turvill, a spokeswoman for the commission. Calderon should have reported the funds as going to Rodriquez, who was a subcontractor to the consulting firm, Turvill said.

Calderon, 44, was elected to the Assembly in 1982.

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