Baugh Likely to Pay Fine, Lawyer Says

TIMES POLITICAL WRITER

Newly elected Assemblyman Scott Baugh likely will have to pay a fine for violating the state Political Reform Act, as a result of "errors" made on his campaign finance reports, one of his attorneys said Wednesday.

Ben Davidian, former chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission who now represents Baugh (R-Huntington Beach), conceded the Baugh campaign had made errors in the filing of his campaign reports. Davidian did not specify the errors, but they could include the omission for several months of a $1,000 contribution from Kendrick Campbell, husband of Democratic candidate Laurie Campbell.

Davidian, who headed the FPPC from 1991 to 1995, said he expects "we are going to have a fine of some kind, primarily because of the filing errors. We had a very inexperienced candidate and campaign staff, who made some mistakes."

The district attorney's office is investigating Campbell's candidacy and Baugh's potential links to it, as well as campaign finance irregularities in the Baugh campaign.

Campbell was removed from the ballot in a special election for the 67th Assembly District seat in October after a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled her nomination papers had been falsified. Baugh captured the seat Nov. 28, succeeding Assemblywoman Doris Allen, who was recalled from office the same day.

Democrats have contended that Campbell's candidacy was engineered by Orange County Republican leaders to siphon votes from well-known Democrat Linda Moulton-Patterson. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove) have said their aides had some involvement in assisting the Campbell candidacy.

Baugh also will file an incomplete year-end campaign finance statement because records needed to finish the report were seized by the district attorney's office in a search of Baugh's home Dec. 23, Davidian said.

The final Baugh campaign report will be updated as soon as Baugh has the missing files or copies of them, Davidian said.

The report, including a notation that it would have to be updated and amended, was mailed to the registrar of voters office Wednesday, to meet the filing deadline, said Baugh's chief of staff, Maureen Werft. Details of the report were not available from Werft or Davidian.

Werft will be listed as campaign treasurer on the report. She replaces Dan Traxler, who resigned last month and has disputed Baugh's version of why the campaign reports omitted the contribution from Kendrick Campbell and why Baugh returned the contribution in cash Sept. 21, the day Laurie Campbell entered the 67th Assembly District race.

Attorney Ron Brower, who also represents Baugh, has said Baugh relied on Traxler to prepare his four campaign finance reports correctly and promptly. Brower also has said Baugh was unaware that an envelope given to him by Traxler contained $1,000 in cash rather than a check for the Campbells.

Traxler said he issued the corrected versions of the reports as soon as Baugh gave him the necessary information. Through his attorney, Traxler has said he got cash for Baugh to give to Campbell because Baugh requested it.

Under the Political Reform Act, violations can be prosecuted through civil, criminal or administrative processes. Davidian, who represents Baugh on the campaign reporting matter, contended the investigation should be pursued as a civil matter and should not involve criminal charges.

Under the Political Reform Act, conviction on even a misdemeanor criminal charge could result in Baugh forfeiting his office.

"We will get these things unwound and Assemblyman Baugh will continue to serve and do an excellent job," Davidian said.

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