San Francisco hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and two political consultants have agreed to pay a $50,000 fine for failing to disclose a campaign contribution to a group seeking to block a new Sacramento sports arena.
Hansen was accused of making an anonymous $100,000 donation in June to a signature-gathering effort to require a citywide vote on public subsidies for sports facilities. Under California campaign-disclosure laws, the contribution should have been reported by July 31.
Hansen, who failed earlier this year in a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and move the NBA team to Seattle, issued a lengthy explanation for the donation and said the contribution was made without his knowledge or consent.
“I take a lot of pride in trying to do things the right way in my life, and I simply should not have allowed myself to get caught up in the competitive dynamics of this situation and never should have agreed to commit any funds to the Sacramento Arena opposition — under any circumstances,” Hansen wrote.
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Hansen agreed to the settlement along with political consultant Brandon Powers and treasurer Lysa Ray of Citizens for a Voice in Government, according to the California Fair Practices Commission, which investigated the case.
Gary Winuk, enforcement officer for the commission, said the board will meet Sept. 19 to consider the proposed settlement agreement. He said that as a condition of the settlement, Hansen and the two others have already submitted the check for $50,000.
In his statement, Hansen said he engaged the law firm of Loeb & Loeb to conduct background research concerning the viability of a new arena in Sacramento before an NBA Board of Governors meeting in May. He said “it was never my desire or intent to either directly fund signature gathering or to be the primary financial sponsor of the opposition’s efforts.”
He said it was only after a complaint was filed with the Fair Practices Commission in August that the law firm informed him some of his funds had been advanced to a group consulting to collect signatures on the ballot measure.
But the Fair Practices investigation report notes the petition drive continued for 11 days after the commission asked for compliance, and the contributor wasn’t revealed until after the commission sued in civil court.
Hansen reiterated his commitment to stay out of efforts to build a new arena in Sacramento and said he would take steps to prevent any signatures collected with his money from being submitted to qualify the measure for the ballot.
“I wish the city of Sacramento and the Kings the best in their efforts going forward,” Hansen wrote.
Hansen in October reached an agreement with Seattle and King County to build a $490 million arena in Sodo with up to $200 million in public money. An appeals court Monday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the local longshore workers union challenging the Sodo location under the state’s Environmental Policy Act.
“The memorandum does not predetermine where an arena will be built or even that an arena will be built at all,” a three-judge panel of the Division 1 Court of Appeals ruled.
The longshore workers say they will take their fight over the proposed Sodo sports arena to the city’s environmental review hearings this month. The first is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at Seattle City Hall. The second will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Fidalgo Room at Seattle Center.
Hansen’s attorney said he was pleased with the court’s decision and said Hansen’s team will focus on completion of the city’s environmental review.
Lynn Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8305. On Twitter @lthompsontimes