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Duvall's sex scandal broke lobbying laws?

October 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A sex scandal involving a former state assemblyman from Yorba Linda has flared up again, with a government watchdog group demanding an investigation of two lobbyists caught up in the scandal.The Assembly Ethics committee says it has no jurisdiction over a politician who has resigned. The Attorney General says no laws were violated. Now another agency has a chance to look at whether any wrongdoing was done in the capital sex tape scandal.

With two investigations into the actions of former Assemblyman Mike Duvall dropped, a government watchdog group is now going after the lobbyists he bragged about sleeping with on tape.

The complaint filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission alleges that: Heidi DeJong Barsuglia, who works for Sempra Energy, and another lobbyist identified only as "Char" violated the Political Reform Act, which bans activities that might make politicians obligated to lobbyists.

"Common Cause would like to see the end result here be stronger lobby disclosure laws so that lobbyists are reporting who they're meeting with, what they're talking about, where, when," said Derek Cressman, California Common Cause.

The married Duvall, who resigned shortly after the tape surfaced last month, said during a committee hearing break that he liked his mistress's "eyepatch underwear" and their new-found fun.

Among the supporting evidence cited in the complaint was an Eyewitness News story about how common affairs are between lawmakers and lobbyists. A source last month did not want to be identified.

"It makes my job tougher. If I have to compete against someone who wants to engage in prostitution to get a piece of legislation passed, that's not something I'm willing to do for my client, and so it gives them a leg up, and it really dirties up the process."

Cressman added that, "There are some lobbyists who are saying this is a widespread type of pattern."

The FPPC has two weeks to rule whether it'll investigate the matter further.

"The Fair Political Practices Commission has the ability to assess an administrative penalty of up to $5,000 dollars per violation," explained FPPC executive director, Roman Porter. "And in certain circumstances, we have the ability to issue a civil lawsuit."

Sempra Energy said Wednesday it will continue to cooperate with any authorities who decide to investigate.

Its lobbyist is still on paid leave and still denies the allegations of trading sex for votes.

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