Gatto won't be penalized for missteps

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) violated campaign finance disclosure rules in the early stages of his 2010 run for office, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission, although the agency determined the mistakes were inadvertent and quickly repaired.

Gatto will also not face a penalty for the violations, according to the written warning, which was made public this week.

An official at the agency said the Gatto campaign used the wrong accounts to pay for campaign mailers early in 2010 and failed to file electronic fundraising reports on time during the same period.

But an April 21 letter from Fair Political Practices Commission attorney Bridgette Castillo said the agency “found no evidence that the bank account violation was anything other than inadvertent, the committees refunded the entire amount used by the wrong account prior to any contact from the enforcement division, and both committees had sufficient funds to pay the costs of the mailers.”

Gatto attributed the problem to mistakes staffers made during a confusing period when he and other candidates faced three elections for the 43rd Assembly District seat in two months. An April 2010 primary to finish the term of then-Assemblyman Paul Krekorian was followed by a June runoff for Krekorian’s seat, as well as a primary election for the next two-year full term representing the 43rd District.

Gatto eventually beat Republican rival Sunder Ramani in November for a two-year term that began this year.

“I take full responsibility,” Gatto said Tuesday. “I’m very pleased that there was no fine … but this serves as a lesson to everybody, myself included, that you have to be very careful with these rules because they are very complicated.”

His campaign had separate accounts for the different elections, Gatto said, and inadvertently sent out a mailer that printed one account when it should have cited the other. The failures to file electronic documents on time were oversights, he added.

The commission has now completed three investigations related to the 2010 Assembly race, none resulting in a fine.

In September, the agency determined the Ramani campaign failed to file numerous electronic reports, but found that Ramani’s treasurer was unaware of the reporting requirement. In October, the commission determined candidate Chahe Keuroghelian’s campaign failed to report complete information about eight of his donors, but closed the case without issuing a penalty.

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