SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A $37,000 fine may be stiff, but it's what Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson owes a political watchdog group, which claims his office did not properly file paperwork for donations.
Johnson admits his office was at fault.
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"My office, we didn't turn in all the paperwork, and as a result there's a penalty and I certainly respect that," Johnson said. "We want to honor that. The good thing for us, everything we did was very transparent. There wasn't a dollar we received that people didn't know about. We had press conference. We had everything on our website."
Donations solicited by Johnson for a number of non-profits added up to more than $3.5 million. Johnson said his team didn't understand that they had to file a report in a timely manner for each and every donation.
The California Fair Political Practice Commission said Johnson failed to report 25 donations for non-profits. That includes the mayor's task force group, ThinkBig.
State law requires that donations or contributions made to charitable causes, which are also known as behests, must be reported within 30 days.
Watchdog group Common Cause said $37,500 is a very large fine for an elected official of a major city.
"It's never good for a public official to break a law or not follow a disclosure law and be fined for it," Common Cause spokesperson Phillip Ung said. "It's about how much accountability Mayor Johnson is willing to take on his side and whether he'll make this mistake again in the future."
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org