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Former senator fined for improperly helping husband's campaign committee

August 12, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Former state Sen. Sharon Runner, center, during her 2011 election campaign. The FPPC said she and her staff cooperated with the investigation.
Former state Sen. Sharon Runner, center, during her 2011 election campaign.… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Former state Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) has agreed to pay $8,000 in fines for improperly transferring large sums of political funds to a campaign committee controlled by her husband, state Board of Equalization Member George Runner, officials said Monday.

The fines were proposed by investigators for the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which will vote on whether to accept the penalties Aug. 22.

In 2008, then-Sen. George Runner formed a campaign committee to support an initiative he proposed, Proposition 6, which would have increased penalties for gang and drug criminals and required the state to pay for satellite tracking of sex offenders and other former state prison inmates.

The voters rejected the measure despite heavy spending by Runner’s Take Back Our Neighborhood Committee. In 2010, he won election to the Board of Equalization and, in 2011, his wife won election to his former senate seat.

FPPC investigators say Sharon Runner used $142,000 from her senate campaign committee to make multiple contributions to her husband’s ballot measure committee in 2011, violating the $3,900 limit on campaign contributions. "The conduct of making contributions in excess of the contribution limit harms the integrity of the election process,” said a report released Monday by the investigative staff.

Sharon Runner "claims that she was not aware that there was a limit on the contributions she could make to a ballot measure committee," the investigative report said. In recommending fines below the $10,000 maximum, investigators said she and her treasurer cooperated with the investigation.

But the FPPC staff recommended a large fine on the two counts of violating the Political Reform Act because Sharon Runner had been warned in 2005 of failing to comply with the contribution limit, and a large sum of money was involved in the latest violations.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com


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