Ex-Senate leader Dean Florez faces fines for misusing campaign funds

Then-state Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter) speaks at a public hearing in 2009.
(Stefano Paltera / For The Times)

SACRAMENTO -- Former California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez faces record fines for campaign violations that include using $26,541 in political funds for his personal benefit to buy furniture, concert tickets, fireworks, satellite radio, travel, expensive dinners and gasoline.

Florez, a Democrat who represented a San Joaquin Valley district until 2010, has agreed to pay $60,000 in fines, according to documents released Monday by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

The ethics agency found that Florez made 168 personal purchases from campaign committees he set up for an abandoned 2010 run for lieutenant governor and a 2014 candidacy for state controller.


The penalty is “the largest fine in California history” involving personal use of campaign funds, according to Gary Winuk, chief of enforcement for the FPPC.

In all, Florez admitted to 12 counts of violating campaign rules, including failure to return $247,000 he had raised for his lieutenant governor campaign after he abandoned it three months before the June 2010 primary.

“The failure by a candidate to refund contributions meant for a campaign that the candidate never participated in is a serious violation of the act, as it undermines the public’s trust that their contributions will be used appropriately,” said a report by the FPPC staff.

The commission is scheduled to meet Nov. 14 to consider the penalty agreed to between Florez and the FPPC enforcement staff.

Florez, an investment banker before his election, spent $6,700 in campaign funds on gasoline for personal driving as well as on purchases at Ikea, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Beck’s Furniture and Bed Bath & Beyond determined not to be legitimate campaign expenses, the FPPC report said.

The report does not identify which travel was deemed personal, but during the period investigated, Florez tapped his campaigns for trips to Chicago, New York, Houston, Santa Monica, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.


He also spent money on a yearlong subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio, monthly parking passes, a golf shirt and Internet, cable TV and phone bills unrelated to his campaign, the report said.


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