State senator Migden sticks with re-election bid

Despite being hit with $350,000 in state fines for campaign violations that included improper personal use of campaign funds, state Sen. Carole Migden remains “committed” to her re-election race, her attorney said Wednesday.

At its meeting in Pasadena today, the Fair Political Practices Commission, charged by the state with enforcing campaign laws, will vote on the proposed fine — the largest in California history against a state candidate. Within its investigation of three campaign committees in Migden’s name, the watchdog agency found 89 violations of the Political Reform Act.

Migden represents the 3rd District, which runs from the eastern portion of The City up to Sonoma. She is running for re-election and faces a tough battle for the Democratic nomination June 3. Former Assemblymember Joe Nation and representatives from Assemblymember Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said they would not call for her to stop her campaign, leaving the decision to her.

“That’s her choice, and the voters’ choice,” Nation said, adding, “As a public official, you have the responsibility to uphold the law.”

Migden’s campaign attorney, James Harrison, said the state senator would not drop out of the race. “No, she’s committed,” he said.

The fines, which Migden has agreed to pay upon approval by the commission, would not harm her campaign, said Harrison, who added Migden “self-reported” the violations to the commission.

FPPC spokesman Roman Porter said, however, while Migden did play a role in the commission looking into violations, political rival Leno officially complained to the FPPC last fall. Additionally, the FPPC was already investigating her, Porter said.

Harrison said Migden was battling cancer in the run-up to a 2006 FPPC audit of her committees, and after the “wake-up call” of the audit, she hired a professional treasurer and ordered a “top-to-bottom” review of her campaign finances.

San Francisco State University political professor Graeme Boushey said California voters have shown little tolerance in recent years for campaign-finance violations.

“I would be surprised to see her survive this scandal,” Boushey said.

The fines come eight days before the state Democratic Convention in San Jose, where delegates will determine who to endorse in the primary.

Pre-convention meetings were held last weekend and no candidate in the state Senate 3rd District race won 70 percent of delegates to earn the party’s endorsement going into the convention weekend, according to Tom Higgins, Leno’s campaign manager.

dsmith@examiner.com

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