Allegations of O.C. Assemblyman Lavishly Spending Campaign Funds Draw Scrutiny From Watchdog

Assemblyman Bill Brough is seen in a photo posted to his Facebook page in December 2014.

Assemblyman Bill Brough is seen in a photo posted to his Facebook page in December 2014.

California’s campaign watchdog said Thursday that it’s investigating allegations that a sitting state lawmaker used campaign funds to fly his family to a Boston Red Sox baseball game, among other purported examples of lavish spending.

The Fair Political Practices Commission released a letter saying it is reviewing allegations that Republican Assemblyman Bill Brough of Dana Point improperly used campaign funds to benefit himself and his family.

The panel’s chief enforcement officer, Galena West, said commissioners have not determined whether the allegations have any merit, something Brough pointed out in a brief statement he released Thursday night to The Associated Press.

“I’ve been advised by the FPPC that they have not made any determination about the validity of the allegations made or about the culpability, if any, of any person” Brough said.

In June Brough separately denied allegations that he made unwanted advances toward four women, calling them politically motivated. Two of those allegations had previously been investigated and found unsubstantiated.

The latest complaint was filed by conservative activist and blogger Aaron Park.

He says campaign spending records show Brough “took a two-day pleasure trip” to Boston with his wife and two children in 2017 to take in a Red Sox game before joining other members of the Legislature’s informal “Irish Caucus” in Ireland. He alleges that Brough improperly used his campaign fund to pay more than $2,700 for airfare and a hotel.

Park says campaign records show Brough’s campaign paid more than $13,000 in cellphone bills for himself and his family since 2015 even though he uses his phone for personal as well as campaign business.

He also questioned spending on cigars, a humidor, liquor cabinet, and more than $177,000 for food and drinks since 2015.

The $1,310 humidor and cigars were labeled “office expenses” on an official disclosure form, the complaint alleges.

It says he also used campaign funds to pay for a $1,320 “custom-made, luxury liquor cabinet/bar made from a bourbon barrel,” but that there was no legitimate legislative or political purpose to justify the expense.

Some of the alleged “extravagant restaurant tabs” ran to $300 or more per person, far above the maximum $200 per person guideline set by the commission, Park alleges. He says Brough generally labeled his more than 155 bar and restaurant tabs as strategy meetings.

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