Thursday, September 14, 2006
Commission Fines Torres, Committee for Violating Campaign Laws
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Fair Political Practices Commission fined a committee called the “Voters for Honesty and Integrity in Politics” and its treasurer, Los Angeles attorney Ricardo Torres II, for failing to disclose contributor information in a late independent expenditure report.
The commission approved a stipulation Tuesday between the committee, Torres and the commission in which Torres and the committee admitted that they violated the state’s Political Reform Act and agreed to a $1,500 fine.
The committee was a state general purpose recipient committee organized with the stated purpose of promoting voter education and awareness. Under the act, Torres, as the committee’s treasurer, may be held jointly and severally liable along with the committee for any reporting violations committed by it.
On March 1, 2002, the committee made independent expenditures totaling $15,390 to oppose Assembly candidate Fabian Núñez—who won the election and is now the Assembly speaker—according to the stipulation. The committee timely filed the corresponding late independent expenditure report on March 2, 2002. Although the filing was timely, it was incomplete as it consisted only of the first page and failed to disclose any of the required information regarding contributions made to it and the contributors who made them.
The violation was not intentional, the commission found. After investigation by the commission’s Enforcement Division, it was concluded that the contributor information missing from the report could be traced back to campaign reporting software that had not been updated to generate and print the complete report. Omission of the information was not caught upon review or signature prior to filing, the parties agreed.
In 2002 Torres was suspended by the State Bar of California for one year, which was stayed, and placed on probation for three months. He stipulated in two matters that he misused his client trust account by depositing attorney fees in it and by writing checks against it for personal expenses. He also did not cooperate with the bar’s investigation of his actions, the State Bar Court found. In a third matter, he wrote checks against insufficient funds in his trust account, committing acts of moral turpitude, the court said.
A call to Torres, whose father, Ricardo A. Torres, was Los Angeles Superior Court presiding judge in 1991 and 1992, was not returned.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company