Rohrabacher Pays Fines for Not Filing Report

TIMES STAFF WRITER

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has paid $2,617 in fines for failure to properly report campaign contributions he made to California candidates, including a $15,000 loan to state Assemblyman Scott Baugh, according to records filed in Washington and Sacramento.

Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) paid the fines to the Secretary of State's Political Reform Division in August, according to records filed with the secretary of state and the Federal Election Commission.

The total paid is a fraction of the $16,650 in fines that were initially assessed but later reduced, partly because auditors found there was no willful intent on the part of Rohrabacher to hide the contributions from the public, said Beth Miller, spokeswoman for the secretary of state.

California's campaign finance reporting laws require contributors who give at least $10,000 a year to file a "major donor" report with the secretary of state's office. Rohrabacher contributed $20,139.95 to California races in 1994, and $25,883 in 1995.

Rohrabacher listed his contributions to California races in his own campaign finance disclosure forms that are filed in Washington and Sacramento, but he did not file the separate "major donor" report.

The congressman's campaign treasurer, Daralyn E. Reed, told the political reform office that her predecessor--who resigned earlier this year--was unaware of the requirement to file a separate "major donor" report.

"The former treasurer of this committee made every effort to comply with federal campaign disclosure rules," Reed said in a statement filed with the state elections office. "Had he known about California's requirement, I am sure that he would have complied. There was no willful intent in not filing."

Miller said that in most instances, the commission waived or reduced the fines because of that explanation. Usually, the fines are based on a $10 per day late penalty fee, Miller added.

"We take into consideration if they were unaware of a reporting requirement. And, this is someone who usually files with us," Miller said. "The overriding concern is: Did the public know about the activity? In this case, yes, because the candidates [who received Rohrabacher's money] reported the contributions."

Among the congressman's major donations were the $15,000 loan to Baugh in September 1995, $11,000 to the 1994 state Assembly campaign of Republican Jeff Earle of Rolling Hills Estates, and $7,459.51 to the 1995 Committee to Recall Doris Allen, the former assemblywoman from Cypress.

Rohrabacher also made a nonmonetary contribution to the 1994 Proposition 187 campaign, valued at $2,444.25; gave $1,400 to the Education Alliance; $1,323.49 in money and services to the 1994 Assembly campaign of Jim Righeimer of Costa Mesa and $2,000 to Righeimer's race for a seat on the Orange County school board. He also made a $900 loan to Orange County Supervisor Jim Silva's 1994 campaign that was repaid in 1995.

After reviewing the records, the secretary of state's office decided to waive some of the fees for 1994 and the first half of 1995, based on "good cause." However, the state refused to waive the fine for the second half of 1995, because Rohrabacher's "cumulative non-filer status does not warrant a waiver/reduction."

The only explanation by Rohrabacher for failing to file the required semi-annual reports was contained in form letters filed by Reed, his new campaign treasurer. Rohrabacher's office did not respond to a request for comment.

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