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Kamala Harris cleared in state ethics inquiry

Attorney General Kamala Harris at an event in Los Angeles in September.

Attorney General Kamala Harris at an event in Los Angeles in September.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

A state ethics agency has determined that California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris did not violate state laws when she received gifts from a company owned by San Francisco interior designer Ken Fulk.

However, Harris did pay Fulk $10,245 for work done to her apartment in San Francisco after investigators from the Fair Political Practices Commission launched the inquiry.

Fulk had provided Harris with design ideas and furniture options and “repaired a wall in her kitchen, painted a portion of her living and dining rooms, installed wallpaper and ordered some furniture and area rugs,” according to a Nov. 20 agency letter detailing the inquiry that was sent to Harris’ attorney.

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Harris, who is running for U.S. Senate, already had made three “substantial payments” to Fulk for his services even though she had yet to receive an invoice. After being contacted by the commission, Harris requested an accounting of the amount still owed and made the $10,245 payment, the letter stated.

In the letter, Galena West, chief of the commission’s enforcement division, said the state ethics law that limits gifts given to elected officials includes exemptions that applied in this matter. The first is for gifts given by a “close personal friend” who is not affected by a decision being made by the elected official. The second is for people who have an existing personal relationship with the government official and the individual providing the gift is not a lobbyist and does not have any business relationship with the government official’s agency.

“We found no violation of the Political Reform Act,” West stated in the letter.

The inquiry was launched in October after the agency received an anonymous complaint.

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“As reflected in the closure letter, the FPPC thoroughly reviewed this matter and determined that there was no basis for this anonymous election year complaint,” said Harris’ attorney, Stephen J. Kaufman of Los Angeles. “The matter is closed.”

Under state law, state elected officials are prohibited from receiving a gift or gifts totaling more than $460 in a calendar year, with a few exceptions.

Harris, a Democrat, is a former San Francisco district attorney who was elected attorney general in 2010 and reelected last year.

Harris has known Fulk for years and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the designer was among the many guests at her Santa Barbara wedding in August 2014. Fulk also has contributed $5,000 to Harris’ campaigns for attorney general, state elections records show.

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phil.willon@latimes.com

Follow @philwillon on Twitter for the latest news on California politics.

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