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Los Angeles

Holden May Admit Rule Violations

Politics: The L.A. councilman considers stipulating to breaking city limits on campaign financing, for the second time. He could face fines of $155,000.

April 26, 2002|SEEMA MEHTA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles Councilman Nate Holden said Thursday that he might admit having violated city campaign finance rules on more than two dozen occasions, but asked for another day to consider his next step.

"We've got to think about so much. It's ironclad if we stipulate," he said after a city Ethics Commission hearing on the matter Thursday. "I've decided to sleep on it."

Holden and his campaign treasurer, Anne Froehlich, are charged with having committed 31 violations during the 1999 campaign that could result in up to $155,000 in fines. A commission audit concluded that Holden accepted 11 donations exceeding the $500 contribution limit for City Council races, and requested public matching funds twice for 20 contributions. Each violation could result in a fine of up to $5,000.

Near the end of the six-hour hearing, Holden and Froehlich appeared to be on the verge of conceding the violations as long as they received ample opportunity to describe mitigating circumstances during the penalty phase of the proceeding.

In many instances, Holden and Froehlich said they found the violations themselves and voluntarily returned money that exceeded the contribution limit.

"There may have been some mistakes on my part, but ... we certainly worked very hard to identify people who gave us money and return all of it that we found we shouldn't have accepted," Froehlich said.

Commission President Miriam Krinsky had started reciting each violation individually, to receive confirmation of each stipulation, when Assistant City Atty. Anthony S. Alperin reminded Holden and Froehlich that stipulating meant they would be admitting breaking the law. It was at that point that they decided to consider the matter further.

Earlier in the day, Holden lashed out at the commission's staff, saying he was unfairly being singled out and discriminated against. Holden was fined $27,500 two years ago for similar infractions during his 1995 campaign--violations he stipulated to because he said otherwise they would have been publicized five days before the election.

"It's been political at all times," he said. "Who's responsible for it, I don't know."

Commission Executive Director LeeAnn M. Pelham declined to comment on the allegations, saying only: "I think the commission's case will speak for itself."

The hearing is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today at Los Angeles City Hall.

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