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California Assembly speaker overspends campaign funds
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11:00, October 06, 2007

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Californian Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuez has traveled the world in luxury, paying with campaign funds for visits to some of the finest hotels and restaurants and for purchases at high-end retailers, the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.

It is not clear how these activities have related to legislative business, as state law requires, because the Los Angeles Democrat refuses to provide details on tens of thousands of dollars in such expenditures.

The spending, listed in mandatory filings with the state, includes 47,412 dollars on United, Lufthansa and Air France airlines this year; 8,745 dollars at the exclusive Hotel Arts in Barcelona, Spain; 5,149 dollars for a "meeting" at Cave L'Avant Garde and a wine seller in the Bordeaux region of France; and 1, 795 dollars for a "meeting" at Le Grand Colbert, a venerable Parisian restaurant.

Nuez also spent 2,934 dollars at Colosseum Travel in Rome, and paid 505 dollars to the European airline Spanair, according to the paper.

The paper also listed Nuez's other overexpenses at home.

Asked in an interview about his foreign travel in general, Nuez said: "For me, it's a question of: Is my perspective on issues broad enough? Do I have enough context when I make decisions? This is a big state to run. You've got to know what you're doing.

"These trips," he said, "at least the ones I've taken -- I feel very confident and comfortable that they're not only justified but necessary for the decisions I need to make on a daily basis."

Given a list of 99 entries culled from his campaign finance filings, however, Nuez's staff refused to show how the expenditures were related to Californian government or politics. Spokeswoman Beth Willon would say only that the expenditures were "properly disclosed and described as required by law."

California law requires all campaign fund expenditures to be at least "reasonably" related to a political, legislative or governmental purpose. Expenditures that confer a substantial personal benefit must be "directly" related to such purposes.

Source: Xinhua

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