FPPC Drops Case of Wilson Condo in L.A.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rejecting a complaint from the California Democratic Party, the state Fair Political Practices Commission has decided to take no action against Republican Gov. Pete Wilson for accepting a rent-free Century City condominium from a nonprofit foundation set up by his supporters.

The Democrats charged that Wilson violated a state ethics law by moving into the $4,150-a-month condo, where the governor and his wife stay on their frequent visits to Southern California. The law generally limits gifts to a state official from any one source to $270 a year.

However, the five-member commission, meeting in closed session earlier this month, sided with the governor, who contended that the rent payments were gifts to the state and did not represent a personal benefit. The two Republicans on the five-member, bipartisan commission, both recused themselves from the debate because of their potential conflict of interest.

The majority of the commissioners did find what they described as "a technical violation" of the state law.

In a lengthy memo closing the books on the complaint, the commission noted that the California Governor's Foundation did not formalize its gift to the state for two months after a rule requiring it to do so went into effect. But because the nonprofit group did eventually meet the requirement, "this violation has been satisfactorily cured."

The state Democratic Party, however, disagrees with the commission's findings and is contemplating legal action, said Drew Mendelson, the party's communications director.

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