The state’s political ethics watchdog unanimously levied a $35,000 fine Thursday on the 2014 campaign of Torrance Mayor Pat Furey for funneling and hiding illegal campaign contributions through a supposedly independent political action committee.
That in turn has triggered a review of the case by the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division, spokeswoman Jane Robison confirmed Thursday afternoon.
The division prosecutes public employees and officials who commit crimes related to the performance of their duties. It also prosecutes violations of the state’s Political Reform Act and Elections Code.
“We are aware of the irregularities and the allegations and we are reviewing the matter,” Robison said. “That’s really all I can say.”
The review is the latest development in a lengthy political and ethical scandal unusual by the standards of conservative Torrance that has set tongues wagging among the community’s political establishment.
Critics, emboldened by the decision of the Fair Political Practices Commission Thursday, said that as a result of the now-confirmed financial and ethical improprieties the City Council should discuss at Tuesday’s meeting possible sanctions against the mayor and his son, Patrick Furey Jr. He is a volunteer member of the Traffic Commission.
Presumably those could include a symbolic public sanction of the mayor and possibly the removal of Furey Jr., from his position on the volunteer commission.
Both attempted to distance themselves Thursday from the FPPC action.
“Although I was not personally involved in the activities which are the subject of the FPPC matter, I took full responsibility for the actions of my committee and the individuals who worked on the campaign,” the mayor said via email. “Noteworthy, after an 18 month investigation, ‘no direct evidence was found’ that I was involved in alleged coordination.”
But indirect evidence was discovered and detailed by the commission, while Furey also admitted to violating the Political Reform Act, the commission said, as did his son.
Also ensnared was Richard Roesch, president of McCormick Ambulance — which controversially won the city’s lucrative contract to transport patients in the wake of the election with Mayor Furey casting the deciding vote — and Tina McKinnor, treasurer of the PAC.
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