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State ethics watchdog fines lobbyists who failed to register

September 09, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy

SACRAMENTO -- A prominent government affairs firm and its high-profile employees have agreed to pay $40,500 in in fines for failing to register the workers as lobbyists.

The fines will be paid by California Strategies LLC and Jason Kinney, former lawmaker Rusty Areias and Winston Hickox, who are partners in the firm.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission investigators concluded that Kinney, Areias and Hickox qualified as lobbyists but failed to register with the state and disclose their lobbying activities. California Strategies is affiliated with a firm called California Strategies and Advocacy.

“In this case, three partners of Cal Strategies qualified as lobbyists under the Political Reform Act  for their actions with relation to three Cal Advocacy clients, causing Cal Strategies to be required to register as a lobbying firm and those three partners to register as lobbyists,” the investigative report said.

The partners reached an agreement with the FPPC staff in which they admitted the violations and agreed to pay the fines.

Kinney admitted representing Focil-MB, a firm managed by Mission Bay Development Group. “During the course of his representation of Focil, Respondent Kinney attempted to influence legislation by communicating directly with members of the California Legislature,” the FPPC report said.

Areias lobbied for Kaiser Ventures and Kaiser Eagle Mountain; Hickox lobbied for CE2 Carbon Capital LLC.

The lobbyists were paid $67,000 last year and $16,000 this year for work that they failed to report.
"The firm takes full responsibility for this matter and all of our principals are committed to ensuring it never happens again," it said in a statement, adding it cooperated with authorities when an audit discovered the need to report lobbying activity.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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