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Developer Fined $47,000 for Hiding Campaign Funding

December 14, 1989|LESLIE BERGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Fair Political Practices Commission on Tuesday imposed a record fine of $47,000 against Griffin Homes for making campaign contributions through its employees and failing to disclose itself as the source of the money.

The penalty, approved by a 4-0 vote, represents the largest fine by the commission in its 14-year history for violations involving hiding or "laundering" campaign contributions, spokeswoman Sandra Michioku said.

One of Southern California's largest developers, Griffin Homes had originally agreed to pay $26,500 in a proposed settlement of its case with the commission's staff.

Its violations, according to the commission, included 22 laundered campaign contributions totaling $3,280, which were made between 1985 and 1988 to candidates including Moorpark Councilman Bernardo Perez and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

But at its meeting last month, the commission rejected that fine as too low and characterized the builder's violations as "very serious." Commission chairman John Larson later said, "I'm sick and tired of the developers buying city councils. We've got to make a stand."

The higher fine was adopted Tuesday without comment, Michioku said.

A spokeswoman for Griffin Homes, sales and marketing vice president Marion Kiesling, said in a prepared statement that the company had "worked diligently and expeditiously with the state Fair Political Practices Commission to get this matter behind us."

"While the amount of the contributions was small, only $3,280, we recognize the importance of upholding the regulations of the Fair Political Practices Commission and agree to pay the fine levied against Griffin Homes."

The commission released its findings against the Calabasas builder in a report issued Oct. 31.

According to the report, the recipients of the contributions generally did not know that Griffin Homes had supplied the money. An exception was Antonovich, who last year accepted $300 from a man he later learned was a Griffin employee, the report said.

The commission's investigation found that Perez received five contributions of $99 each during an unsuccessful bid for the Moorpark City Council in 1987. At the time, the report noted, Griffin Homes was seeking permits from the Moorpark City Council to build 494 homes.

Perez has denied knowing the source of the money.

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