Lobbying firm representing Bay Area clients issued $133,500 fine by watchdog group 

A Sacramento-based firm representing clients that include the 49ers has been issued a $133,500 fine by the state’s political watchdog agency that says the lobbying group violated campaign-contribution laws.

According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the largest lobbying fine in its history — levied against Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates — was mostly related to expensive parties thrown for top political leaders including Gov. Jerry Brown and dozens of state lawmakers.

In addition to the 49ers, the firm represents high-profile clients, including PG&E Co., the California State University system Chancellor’s Office, Cisco Systems Inc., the cities of Anaheim and San Diego, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The commission said Kevin Sloat, the firm’s principal officer, hosted fundraisers spanning back to 2009 at his Sacramento house during which he provided illegal nonmonetary gifts that included catered food, drinks and cigars. California law prohibits lobbyists from making campaign contributions to officials whose agencies they lobby, but they are allowed to host political fundraisers if the total cost of the event is less than $500.

According to the commission’s summary of its investigation, Sloat said he believed he was following the law by keeping his own share of expenses below $500. But the law applies to all services and gifts offered at such parties, including those provided by vendors.

The commission’s board is scheduled to vote on the fine Feb. 20.

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