The old "nameless accountant" ploy

Submitted: Aug 14, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

The violations were errors made by bookkeepers and not made directly by Gray, according to Mike Lynch, Gray’s campaign manager. “They’re bookkeeping errors,” he said. “We have taken steps to fix those.”

The treasurer and accountant in charge of the bookkeeping at the time no longer work for Gray, Lynch said. “Adam takes full responsibility for it,” Lynch said... Gray and his committee also accepted $13,200 from IBEW Local Union 1245, which exceeds the $4,100 limit allowed at the time, according to the FPPC.

--Thaddeus Miller, Merced Sun-Star, August 9, 2017

We wonder if anyone among the Sun-Star's readership is dumb enough to take this example of "journalism" at face value. We wonder how likely it is that the esteemed state Assemblyman, Adam Gray, Merced, of no known political affiliation but his own, really, really didn't know the size of the IBEW contribution. Lynch sounds as if he's not even trying to make sense, just placing a few ancient cliche bandaids over the open wound of his ethically disadvantaged member.

If you follow the story below as it wends its way through the slimy halls of the state Capitol, you'll see it goes back to the Calderon brothers and Gray's connection to them. Gray's dirty and, judging from his history to date, he will remain dirty. Also, local observers of the high-handed ways members of his family have had with other peoples' money suggest that Gray learned his bad habits right at home.

--blj

 

8-9-17

Merced Sun-Star
Here are the contributions Merced’s Gray reported too late, FPPC says

Thaddeus Miller

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/local/community/article166361437.html

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, faces a potential fine of $8,500 for four counts campaign violations from his race in the 2014 election, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Gray and his committee, Gray for Assembly 2014, are accused of not filing paperwork in the required time for late contributions and for a contribution exceeding $5,000, as well as accepting a contribution larger than the allowed limit, according to FPPC.

The violations were found in an audit by the Franchise Tax Board, according to the commission.

The violations were errors made by bookkeepers and not made directly by Gray, according to Mike Lynch, Gray’s campaign manager. “They’re bookkeeping errors,” he said. “We have taken steps to fix those.”

The treasurer and accountant in charge of the bookkeeping at the time no longer work for Gray, Lynch said. “Adam takes full responsibility for it,” Lynch said.

$8,500The potential fine faced by Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced

Gray and his committee did not file a 24-hour report for $24,884 in contributions made on April 29, 2014, toward the Proposition 41 campaign, the veterans housing measure, according to the filing.

Four separate contributions amounting to $12,700 he received also were not reported in a timely manner, the filing said. Those came from Procter & Gamble Co., California Real Estate Political Action Committee, Caterpillar Employees PAC and Genentech Inc.

A $6,500 contribution from the AFSCME Union on July 18, 2013, was not reported before the deadline, according to the FPPC.

Gray and his committee also accepted $13,200 from IBEW Local Union 1245, which exceeds the $4,100 limit allowed at the time, according to the FPPC.

Auditors said the “investigation did not find any evidence that the violations contained herein were intentional,” according to the filing.

Gray faced a maximum penalty of $20,000, according to the commission. The potential fine goes before the FPPC on Aug. 17, according to records.

 

8-11-17

Sacramento Bee
Adam Gray, Debra Gravert agree to FPPC fines

By Laurel Rosenhall

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article2606400.html

 

Fallout from the FPPC’s investigation of lobbyist Kevin Sloat continued to hit Sacramento on Monday, as the political watchdog announced reaching related settlements with Assemblyman Adam Gray, Assembly administrator Debra Gravert and an Indian tribe that is a client of the Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates lobbying firm.

The Fair Political Practices Commission announced Sloat’s record-setting fine of $133,500 in February, saying he acknowledged breaking the law by providing lavish hospitality when he hosted political fundraisers at his home and by arranging tickets to sports games for public officials. At the time, Sloat was the lobbyist for the San Francisco 49ers. State law forbids lobbyists from giving gifts to state officials of more than $10 a month – or arranging for such gifts to be made. Sloat’s settlement said he had arranged for the 49ers and another client, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, to give tickets to two lawmakers and a chief of staff.

In a new settlement made public on Monday, Gravert, the Assembly’s chief administrative officer, agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and acknowledged that she received a gift of 49ers tickets that was inappropriately arranged by Sloat’s firm. Gravert reported receiving tickets worth $358 from the 49ers on her annual gift report for 2012, when she worked as the chief of staff to Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley.

 “The Forty Niners gave the tickets to (Gravert) at no cost. The lobbying firm Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates arranged the gift by contacting the Forty Niners in order to obtain the tickets for (Gravert),” says an exhibit attached to the settlement Gravert reached with the FPPC.

Also made public on Monday was a settlement between the FPPC and the Yocha Dehe tribe, which runs the Cache Creek casino and golf resort in Yolo County. The tribe, a Sloat client, agreed to pay a fine of $9,000 for hosting campaign fundraisers for four politicians and not reporting the free golf rounds it provided as non-monetary political contributions.

The tribe’s settlement with the FPPC says it gave free golf rounds that were not properly reported to Sen. Alex Padilla and Assemblymen Adam Gray and Joe Coto for fundraising events in 2010 and 2011. It also says the tribe gave Sen. Ron Calderon a contribution over the $7,800 limit in effect at the time when it hosted a fundraiser for him in 2009. The tribe donated $6,325 worth of golf to Calderon’s campaign, the settlement says, and also gave him a cash contribution of $3,000. Together, the golf and cash donations exceeded the limit.

Calderon, a Montebello Democrat well-known for time spent on the golf course, was suspended from the Senate in March after federal prosecutors charged him with taking bribes in an undercover corruption sting.

Gray, a Democratic assemblyman from Merced who earlier worked as a Calderon staffer, agreed with the FPPC to pay a $2,000 fine for not reporting $1,900 worth of golf Yocha Dehe contributed to his campaign during a fundraiser at the tribe’s casino in December 2011.

Coto reported receiving the golf rounds from the tribe, and the FPPC is pursuing cases against Padilla and Calderon for not reporting Yocha Dehe’s golf contributions, said FPPC enforcement chief Gary Winuk.

The full board of the FPPC meets Aug. 21 to vote on the proposed fines.

Yocha Dehe’s acknowledgment that it provided free golf rounds for political fundraisers without reporting them as non-monetary political contributions echoes some of theallegations in a lawsuit filed late last year by a former Sloat employee. In her wrongful termination suit, Rhonda Smira alleged that lawmakers were treated to complimentary golf at a course owned by an Indian tribe that was a Sloat client.

 

12-26-13

Los Angeles Time

Ex-employee accuses lobbying firm of directing illegal contributions

Former worker's lawsuit says Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates fired her because she protested that the company was breaking the law.

 Patrick McGreevy and Paige St. John

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/dec/26/local/la-me-ff-lobbying-lawsuit-20131227

SACRAMENTO — A lawsuit filed Christmas Eve alleges that a prominent California lobbying firm sought influence by directing illegal contributions to dozens of politicians — including nearly a third of the Legislature.

The suit charges that Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates tapped its roster of Fortune 500 clients to steer hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks to favored politicians — although the document fails to name any.

According to the court papers, company founder Kevin Sloat, who was once an aide to former Gov. Pete Wilson, also improperly gave gifts to legislators, instructing that no written record of them be kept.

Legislative lobbyists are barred by California law from donating to lawmakers or candidates for the Legislature, and from directing such contributions. The state also prohibits lobbyists from making, arranging or delivering gifts worth more than $10 to an elected state official in a single month. The allegations are made by Rhonda Smira, a former employee of Sloat's firm. She contends that she was fired in late 2012 because she protested that Sloat's practices were illegal and says Sloat falsely accused her of theft.

Smira asserts wrongful termination and defamation, and seeks various damages but does not specify an amount.

Sloat did not respond to the accusations.

But in a written statement provided by a media consultant, the Sloat firm questioned Smira's credibility. The statement said Smira is under investigation by local authorities on unspecified charges.

"We are not at all surprised that the plaintiff, a former bookkeeper for the firm, has resorted to such a desperate legal maneuver," the statement said.

Shelly Orio, spokeswoman for the Sacramento County district attorney's office, said the department has a case against Smira under review.

Smira's lawyer, Jesse Ortiz, said the lawsuit lacks legislators' names because it is not his practice to spell out such supporting details in an initial pleading.

The lawsuit alleges that Sloat and his firm routinely broke state political law over the last decade, arranging private dinners, doling out floor tickets to Sacramento Kings basketball games and passes for San Francisco Giants baseball games, and setting up golf outings.

Smira, who now runs a consulting firm that specializes in campaign finance reporting and event hosting, says in the suit that she was ordered not to provide receipts for the gifts; that way, recipients could avoid disclosing the transactions on financial reports required by the state.

The lawsuit says Sloat told her: "If I don't report and there is no written record, and they don't report it, then it didn't happen."

She also says it was her job to arrange elaborate fundraisers for California lawmakers at Sloat's showcase home in Sacramento, stocked with cognac and imported cigars and served by private caterers.

Sloat's lobbying clients were expected to attend and make political donations, Smira alleges.

"A typical evening at [Sloat's] mansion would result in between $10,000 and $50,000 for an elected official," the lawsuit states, and in return the firm's clients "were promised exclusive access to the governor, legislators or candidates."

The lawsuit alleges that 37 lawmakers and an undisclosed number of other public officials received "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in illegal contributions this way.

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Sloat was Wilson's chief legislative aide in the 1990s, when he "supervised legislative operations in 81 state departments in the executive branch," according to the firm's website.

Sloat's business partner, Kelly Jensen, worked in the 1990s as chief of staff for Charles Calderon, who was then state Senate majority leader. Calderon is a brother of current state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello), who is under investigation by federal authorities alleging that he engaged in influence peddling and bribery.

That investigation has spotlighted Ronald Calderon's legislative lifestyle, including travel, dinners, cigars and liquor paid for by lobbyists and their clients.

The Sloat firm reported receiving $4.4 million from four dozen clients last year to lobby state government, making it the seventh-largest concern in the Sacramento lobbying corps.

The company's client roster includes Indian casino operators, city governments, water agencies and beer makers and other large corporations.

 

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