Anti-Prop. 8 groups to pay fines for campaign finance violations

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SACRAMENTO — Three political groups that fought a 2008 ballot measure banning gay marriage in California have agreed to pay the state $80,000 in fines after admitting they broke campaign finance laws.

“An unprecedented number of contributions” from all over the country hindered the groups’ ability to report them all within California’s strict deadlines, said Steve Mele, treasurer for the campaign committee No on 8, Equality for All.

The group told the enforcement staff of the Fair Political Practices Commission, California’s ethics watchdog, that it would pay $42,500 in fines for failing to meet deadlines for reporting $724,000 in donations.


Because of similar violations, the Human Rights Campaign California Marriage PAC-No on Prop. 8 Committee agreed to pay $6,000 in fines, and Equality California Issues PAC will pay $31,500 in penalties.

The full commission will meet next week to vote on the fines. The agency recently levied $49,000 in penalties against the other side of the same-sex marriage measure, on 8, because it failed to properly report more than $1 million in contributions.

Also next week, the commission will act on $200 in fines agreed to by state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) for failing to report a gift of more than $13,000 in foreign travel. The gift came from a nonprofit group that paid Wright’s expenses to receive a master’s degree in international relations.

The expenses were among $42,767 spent by the Legislative Leadership Institute in Wisconsin for Wright to visit Rwanda, Switzerland and Ireland in the last three years for research for the degree from Irish American University in Dublin.

“The fellowship group is not a political group, and so neither they nor I had any indication that anything should be filed,” Wright said.

Legislators are required to publicly report gifts valued at more than $420 from most sources, political or not — which Wright did with numerous other gifts, including nearly $20,000 in other expenses paid by the Legislative Leadership Institute.