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Orange County

Irvine Firm Fined for Illegal Donations

April 16, 2002|JEFF GOTTLIEB | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Irvine title insurance company has admitted it broke state campaign finance law when it reimbursed employees for the $2,250 they contributed to two Orange County candidates in 1998.

Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. has agreed to pay a $16,000 fine in a settlement with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

In an order finalized Friday, the FPPC said, "Making campaign contributions in other than one's own name is one of the more serious violations of the [Political Reform] Act."

Five employees of Fidelity donated $250 each to losing Anaheim mayoral candidate Bob Zemel. Four others donated $250 each to then-Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer (R-Newport Beach).

Zemel is vice president for public affairs of Fidelity National Financial Inc., an affiliate of the title insurance company.

Zemel, who served on the Anaheim City Council from 1994 to 1998, lost the 1998 mayoral election to Tom Daly, receiving 40% of the vote.

Brewer, running in her last Assembly race before relinquishing her seat because of term limits, was reelected with 77% of the vote.

According to the FPPC, Brewer carried an Assembly bill in which Fidelity National had an interest.

The FPPC order did not say whether any company employees had been disciplined. The company could have been fined as much as $18,000.

The Fidelity National senior vice president who signed the stipulation declined to comment Monday.

He referred calls to the company's director of investor relations, who could not be reached.

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