Assembly leader Garrick fined for failing to report gifts
California Assembly Minority Leader Martin Garrick, R-Solana Beach, was one of about 30 legislators fined by the Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to disclose reportable gifts.
In the first proactive investigation of its kind, the FPPC found there were four instances in 2008 in which gifts Garrick received were only reported by the givers and not the assemblyman. The FPPC ultimately fined him on three of those counts, $200 per infraction for a total of $600. Garrick sent the FPPC a letter of apology, explaining clerical errors were made and that he reported all 44 gifts that had been accounted for.
“I pride myself on accurately recording and reporting the gifts I receive and require the same of my staff. In fact, in the interest of full transparency and accurate reporting, I have consistently reported all gifts including those that fall well below the threshold required by the Political Reform Act,” Garrick wrote in the letter, pointing out examples of reporting free turkey jerky and chocolates valued at less than $10. “I hope you can understand how small mistakes could be made by my office or by those organizations required to report these events.”
Garrick was fined for not reporting the following gifts: a buffet luncheon from the Oak Tree Racing Association, valued at $105; a dinner from the Boeing Co., valued at $124.49; and a concert ticket from Sempra Energy, valued at $146.
In an interview, FPPC Executive Director Roman Porter said the commission decided to investigate after the Sacramento Bee found that lobbyists were circumventing a gift-giving limit of $420 by giving to the relatives of politicians, for which there is no cap. In total, from January 2008 to June 2009, assemblymen and their families received more than $600,000 in gifts, according to the Sacramento Bee.
“I had a conversation with our chief of enforcement. We talked about that article and thought that it is something that we should probably take a look at to determine whether or not somebody reports gifts adequately,” Porter said.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles; Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, D-Shafter; and Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, were also cited by the FPPC for failing to make required disclosures. Porter said the Pechanga tribe, which operates a casino in Temecula, would also pay fines for not reporting a dinner in which it hosted several legislators.
The FPPC dropped the fourth charge on Garrick, which was for not reporting a $51 reception invitation from Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of California. In his letter, Garrick explained a clerical error was made on the date of the event, which is why it did not match with what the lobbying group reported. For the other three, spokesman Seth Unger said that while Garrick was apologetic for the mix-up, it was not entirely his fault because the gift givers did not give Garrick the correct reporting information.
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