Dean Florez

Dean Florez

Courtesy of Dean Florez

Former Calif. State Senator Florez Fined

Former legislator was instrumental in a number of horse-racing related bills.

Former California State Senator Dean Florez, who as the chairman of the Governmental Organization Committee was instrumental in a number of horse-racing related bills, has agreed to pay a $60,000 fine for misuse of campaign funds.

The settlement came after an investigation by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.

The Sacramento Bee reported Nov. 19 that Florez admitted using $26,542 raised for a possible run for lieutenant governor on trips, meals, and entertainment. The termed-out Shafter, Calif., Democrat also failed to refund about $247,000 in general election contributions, the Bee reported.

The Bee reported that Florez had raised nearly $1.5 million in campaign contributions while still in office in 2009, including $100,000 from state horse racing industry sources. Florez's former committee initiates gaming legislation, which included a controversial increase in the state takeout rate on horse race wagering that went to increase overnight purse levels.

He abandoned plans to pursue the lieutenant governor's office three months prior to the 2010 primary and endorsed current office holder Gavin Newsom instead.

The FPPC investigation found that Florez used campaign money for a family ski trip to Utah, including chartering a private jet. He paid $1,460 for furnishings from Ikea and Beck's Furniture, $1,415 on items at Best Buy and Bed and Bath & Beyond and $840 for concert tickets. Another $6,780 went to personal gasoline, $5,200 to monthly parking passes and $685 for internet, phone, and cable bills.

Florez told investigators that a campaign credit card was sometimes used for personal expenses, the FPPC said.

After leaving the Legislature, Florez became president of the 20 Million Minds Foundation, a non-profit that works to reduce the cost of textbooks. The organization's 2011 filing lists his total compensation at $250,000, the Bee reported.