Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre today agreed to pay $141,966 to settle a lawsuit filed against him for violating campaign laws and close out a criminal case brought against three of his political aides.
Under terms of the settlement, Alatorre, who did not face criminal charges, admitted personal negligence for the illegal conduct of his campaign. Of the total in fines and restitutions, he will be required to pay $5,000 out of his own pocket. The rest may be paid from campaign contributions.
The settlement stems from an unusual lawsuit filed by City Atty. James K. Hahn accusing Alatorre of violating the state's Political Reform Act.
The lawsuit contended that Alatorre failed to fully disclose contributions and expenditures that helped him win election last year to the Eastside's 14th District council seat left vacant by Councilman Arthur K. Snyder's resignation.
Hahn had earlier filed criminal charges against Alatorre's campaign staff, also for allegedly violating the city's campaign laws. Hahn said he lacked evidence to file criminal charges against Alatorre.
Under the terms of the settlement, Alatorre admitted personal negligence in the conduct of his campaign and, in a sworn statement, admitted the violations and spelled out the details, explaining how money from a state campaign fund was used for his city campaign. City law limits contributions to a council campaign to $500 per source.
"I take full responsibility for the errors made during my campaign for City Council in 1985," Alatorre's statement said. "In all, the errors were those of negligence, not in willful disregard of the law.
"I am genuinely sorry for the series of errors which had led us to this day," the statement said.
Hahn said: "That statement was, in our view, the principal requirement in any settlement of this dual enforcement action, since I have felt since the outset of this case that Mr. Alatorre should be held as personally accountable as the law would allow for the actions of his campaign."
Under the settlement, Alatorre is to pay a $5,000 fine to the city from his personal funds, and his campaign committees are to pay $45,000 in fines. Alatorre, a former state assemblyman, must return $57,066 from his council campaign committee to his state campaign committee. The city attorney contended that the money was transferred in violation of the city campaign law approved by voters in April, 1985.
Alatorre's council campaign committee also must return contributions of $34,900 raised before he formally declared his candidacy, a violation of the city campaign law.
In return, the city will drop the civil case against Alatorre. Early today, Municipal Judge Rose Hom, on the city attorney's recommendation, fined Alatorre's campaign committees $25,000 and dismissed charges against Alatorre campaign aides Cecilia Alatorre Kunkel, Ernest Camacho and Mary Brooks. The $25,000 is part of the $45,000 in fines to be paid by the committee, with the remainder being paid as part of the civil case, said Mike Qualls, a Hahn spokesman.