A California Politician Was Fined $24,000 For Mistakes In Raising Money For The Black Caucus Seven Years Ago


A member of the California Assembly has to pay thousands of dollars to state election officials for mistakes made years ago when raising money for the Legislative Black Caucus scholarship organization.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission recently said that Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, will be fined $24,000 for not filing reports on time for 94 donations to the Legislative Black Caucus Policy Institute. This is how the caucus gets money for college scholarships.

The gifts, which added up to more than $1.5 million, came from many different groups, such as labor unions, Native American tribes, oil and energy companies, and other business interests.

The donors gave the money in 2017 and 2018, while Holden was chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and the Black Caucus Policy Institute, which is the group’s non-profit scholarship fund.

“While chair of the Institute, Holden says he ordered an internal audit to be done, which showed that: “due to staff changes and leadership transitions, the responsibility to track and report behested charitable contributions was not properly transferred to the incoming staff,” the FPPC said.

The FPPC is a five-person, nonpartisan board that oversees ethics in government, lobbying, campaign funding, and conflicts of interest. It says that “behested payments” are money that is asked for from “one person or organization to be given to another person or organization.”

The group’s decision document said Holden made plans for the reports to be sent in as soon as he learned about what was going on, even though they were 20 to 276 days late.

Doug Herman, spokeswoman for Holden’s campaign, said that the assemblyman “fills those reports as chair and settles this case with the full support of caucus members.”

In a statement, Herman said, “We remain committed to making sure that the next generation of Black Californians has the resources they need to go to college and reach their goals.”

The FPPC said that timely declaration is important because “behested payments can be a way for donors to try to get elected officials to like them.” The people who can’t get to them are “deprived of a timely opportunity to scrutinize the payments.”

The FPPC said, “Several donors to the Institute have business before the Legislature in almost every legislative session.” “However, there is no proof that these forced payments had anything to do with their work as lawmakers.”

At the FPPC meeting on March 21, chair Richard Miadich asked James Lindsay, chief of enforcement, why it took so long for the group to finish its review and if Holden’s case was unique.

Lindsay agreed that this case was rare and said that the delay was because the division had a lot of cases to handle and there had been changes to how behested payments are made recently.

Iadich said, “When Chair Holden came in, he had a mess to clean up,” before the FPPC voted on the fine. “He did that, but it was against the law, and he agrees to take responsibility for it.”

Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, who is currently chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, said that the $24,000 fine will be split among the members of the caucus, with each paying $2,000. She said that they would rather help pay the fine than take money away from grants.

Wilson said, “We in the caucus are in charge of the foundation.” “That means that the foundation is on us as a caucus.”

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