SACRAMENTO, CA - A state watchdog agency could be slapping Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson with a $37,000 fine.
Johnson says he'll pay up for failing to report millions of dollars of donations. The money was for a number of different non-profits including his "Think Big" arena task force.
The mayor's campaign manager, Steven Maviglio, said the mayor "ran afoul of the rules." He also said, "It's a gray area that none of the mayor's staff has ever dealt with before."
The California Fair Political Practices Commission believes Johnson failed to report 25 behest payments - which are basically contributions - to his various charities. Those charities include the mayor's arena task force - "Think Big," a program called City Year, and also Teach for America.
The donations add up to more than $3.5 million. The $37,500 fine is one of the largest ethics fines the commission has ever handed out for non-campaign-related actions. Still, the amount is less than one percent of the overall donations the mayor has collected.
"You know in the overall scope of things, it's just a drop in the bucket," said Maviglio. "You have to remember, the mayor has four staff members. It's largely a ceremonial post. He has raised a lot of money to help Sacramento, volunteers, programs to help the homeless, and things like that. And this is the way to get it. But, there are a lot of rules that have to be followed."
Maviglio went on to say, "He didn't follow the rules and he admitted responsibility."
In a statement, Johnson said he appreciates the acknowledgment the error was an unintentional administrative lapse. He also said he takes full responsibility and will make sure the oversight doesn't happen again.
"At my direction, my administration has improved training and tracking procedures to ensure we are fully compliant moving forward," stated Johnson.
A hearing in San Diego will determine if the fines are actually imposed - but Johnson has already agreed to pay them.
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org