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Ethics Commission Accuses Zine of Campaign Violations

L.A. councilman faces a hearing on allegations of accepting donations in excess of legal limits.

June 21, 2005|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The director of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission on Monday formally accused Councilman Dennis Zine of 23 violations of campaign finance laws, including accepting donations that exceeded city limits and using a police union phone for political purposes.

LeeAnn Pelham, head of the Ethics Commission, issued a three-page accusation alleging that Zine and his campaign treasurer received $4,191 in contributions that exceeded the city's $500 limit on individual donations and accepted $2,415 in public matching funds for which his campaign was not eligible.

The excessive contributions allegedly included $2,100 provided by the Police Protective League for service and airtime costs for a phone used by Zine's campaign.

Zine denied he used the union telephone for political purposes while he campaigned for his council seat in 2001.

"It was police activity that was taking place. I didn't use it for campaign calls," said Zine, who is a police reserve officer and was a police union director before he ran for the council.

The issuance of a public accusation triggers a hearing by the Ethics Commission or a hearing examiner to determine whether the accusations are true.

If deemed true, the commission could fine Zine up to $115,000 -- $5,000 per count.

Pelham also issued accusations in two political money-laundering cases Monday, including an allegation that Acosta & Co. and owner Steve Acosta, a CPA, reimbursed political contributions made by others to the 2001 campaigns of council members Jack Weiss, Wendy Greuel and Greig Smith, and of City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo.

In the other case, Pelham alleged that Design Masonry and its owner, Randall Carpenter, were involved in laundering $3,000 in contributions to the campaigns of Weiss and 2001 mayoral candidate Kathleen Connell.

Acosta and Carpenter were among 14 subcontractors to Alan Casden's development firm who pleaded no contest in October to criminal charges of participating in a political money-laundering scheme at City Hall, along with a vice president of the Casden company.

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