Remember Cruz Bustamante? No? He ran for governor against Arnold... ring any bells? He's still the lieutenant governor of California.
Anyway, while running for governor he accepted almost $4 million from Indian tribes to fund his campaign... for re-election as lieutenant governor. But he wanted to use the money for his gubernatorial campaign instead, so he just rolled it from one account to the other. A judge ordered him to move it back, and to return the money to the donors.
Now it looks like the whole scheme was purposefully designed to circumvent campaign financing laws, and Mr. Bustamante has been fined.
California's lieutenant governor paid a record $263,000 fine for violating campaign donation limits in his run against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search), the state's political watchdog agency said Tuesday.Naturally, Mr. Bustamante himself is not to blame.
California's Fair Political Practices Commission charged in a civil lawsuit filed in January that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (search) and his supporters improperly moved $3.8 million between campaign committees during the recall election in an effort to skirt contribution limits.
Although agency officials have said Bustamante faced fines of as much as $9 million, the $263,000 settlement is still the largest ever paid in California by a candidate. The agreement was approved Monday by Judge Loren McMaster.
"It was never my intention to violate the law," Bustamante said. "Unfortunately, the FPPC's regulations weren't as clear as they could have been. We believed that we were using a process the FPPC had allowed in the past and that our actions were consistent with the law."But, considering the egregious nature of the violations, not everyone was convinced by his pleas of ignorance.
The maximum contribution from any donor to a candidate running in the recall election was $21,200. Investigators said there were 16 contributions, valued at $3.8 million, that exceeded the contribution limits.Sixteen contributions with an average size of $237,500 -- more than ten times the allowable amount. Those regulations must have been pretty vague.
"Given the purposeful nature of the conduct, we thought it was important that this needed to be the highest paid," said the agency's chief of enforcement Steven Russo.