Those poor souls who donated half a million dollars to Senator Leland Yee's campaign for California Secretary of State may want to demand that the Senator gives the money back before he spends it on legal fees. Apparently under California law he can use some of that war chest to mount a defense.
Jay Wierenga, spokesman for the California Fair Political Practices Commission tells the San Francisco Chronicle that the money Yee raised to run for Secretary of State can be used to pay for legal fees related to corruption, bribery and firearm trafficking charges.
"The Political Reform Act is relatively silent on whether you can transfer the money (from a campaign account),” Wierenga said, “but it appears you can."
Below is the Political Reform Act legal defense fund clause:
“A candidate for elective state office or an elected state officer may establish a separate account to defray attorney’s fees and other related legal costs incurred for the candidate’s or officer’s legal defense if the candidate or officer is subject to one or more civil or criminal proceedings or administrative proceedings arising directly out of the conduct of an election campaign, the electoral process, or the performance of the officer’s governmental activities and duties. These funds may be used only to defray those attorney fees and other related legal costs.”
According to the last campaign finance report filed by Yee on March 17, his account contained $134,000. Yee also recently deposited half a million dollars for TV ads, giving him access to more than $600,000 if that deposit is returned.
Wierenga added that it was the legislature, and not the FPPC, that wrote the clause allowing this.
Yee's lawyer announced yesterday outside of a San Francisco court that he will plead not guilty. Yee was recently suspended from the Senate with pay until his legal issues are settled.
Source: Huffington Post