Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Election regulators fine Tulare hospital board member

Rosalinda Avitia, an elected member of the Tulare Local Health Care District board of directors, and her campaign treasurer Bob Montion are being ordered to pay a $3,500 fine by the Fair Political Practices Commission.
The campaign did not report $2,600 in contributions of $100 or more as required before the election last year, according to commission staff.
The health care district oversees Tulare Regional Medical Center.
Montion called the fine amount “fair” and said he apologized to Avitia for botching the reporting.
“It was a bookkeeping error,” said Montion, a former CEO of Tulare District Hospital, the former name of the medical center. The campaign couldn’t afford an accountant so he did the paperwork himself, he said.
It appears that the FPPC investigation was launched after lawyers for the health care district submitted sworn complaints about the campaign’s fundraising to the commission.
Attorney Leonard Herr of Visalia wrote in his complaint that Montion sent an email message to an executive at a construction company doing work for the hospital seeking campaign donations for Avitia.
Montion requested $99 donations, noting that small amounts don’t require disclosure of the donor’s name. He also asked that contributions be made to the “Latino PAC,” which would give the money to the campaign.
Montion “engaged in campaign money laundering, improper campaign reporting and improper receipt of campaign funds,” Herr wrote in his complaint. This week, Herr said he doesn’t know what the regulatory body learned but he’s confident that commission staff reached an appropriate conclusion.
Montion said he’s “delighted” that the investigation found nothing “nefarious” as alleged in the complaints.
The proposed fine is on the commission agenda for approval next week, but Montion said he and Avitia already signed settlement documents and paid the fine.

— Lewis Griswold

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