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Panel Accuses Hernandez of Election Abuses : Campaign funding: Fair Political Practices Commission could fine the councilman and two committees $22,000 for alleged irregularities in two municipal races.

March 04, 1993|JILL GOTTESMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

HUNTINGTON PARK — City Councilman Luis Hernandez and two of his campaign committees are facing $22,000 in fines for alleged irregularities in two municipal elections, officials at the Fair Political Practices Commission said this week.

Hernandez and the committees are accused of filing campaign disclosure statements months after they were due, ignoring requirements for reporting large contributions and making improper cash expenditures.

The complaint against the councilman, Citizens to Elect Luis Hernandez and Huntington Park Citizens for Responsible Government listed 11 violations of state election laws, each carrying a fine of up to $2,000. Most of the alleged violations stem from Hernandez's successful bid for City Council in 1990.

Hernandez called the allegations "flimflam" and said City Clerk Marilyn Boyette, who reported some of the violations to the state, had failed to give him proper guidance.

"We were inexperienced, and we did not know about any of the filing responsibilities," he said. "And (the city clerk) did not provide us the proper information."

Boyette would not comment on Hernandez's accusation, but said she was legally required to report any filing errors to the political practices commission after the election.

During the 1990 campaign, commission officials said, Hernandez filed all of the required campaign disclosure statements late--some were three months overdue--"making it impossible for voters to know who had contributed to his campaign at the time they voted."

The councilman also failed to follow rules for reporting individual contributions of $2,000 and $2,500 that his campaign received shortly before the election, according to the agency. State law requires that in the two weeks before an election, candidates must report donations of more than $1,000 within 24 hours.

Hernandez was also cited for making cash expenditures of more than $100 during the council race, which is prohibited by state law. In one instance, officials said, Hernandez hired a band to perform at fund-raisers on two different days, and paid $400 in cash for each appearance.

Other allegations stem from a September, 1989, special election, when Hernandez was treasurer of Citizens for Responsible Government, a committee formed to oppose a city utility tax.

During that campaign, the political practices commission said, Hernandez also failed to file several required reports on time, including campaign expenditure forms and a statement of organization.

Hernandez said he had agreed to pay a fine of $15,000 to settle the case. He paid $10,000, according to a campaign disclosure statement filed with the city clerk in December but apparently failed to pay the rest.

Commission spokeswoman Carol Thorp said Hernandez has not yet settled with the agency and has 30 days to respond to the allegations. Thorp said a $22,000 fine would be more than double the average the average penalty assessed by the agency in municipal elections.

Hernandez has already paid $2,110 in municipal fines for many of the same violations.

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