Chris Hansen has been fined $50,000 for his role in funding a Sacramento Anti-Arena Initiative.
Hansen issued a statement Monday, saying “I take a lot of pride trying to do things the right way in my life, and I simply should have 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 tried to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle until his bid was denied by the NBA earlier this year. The team’s new owners are working with city officials to build the team a downtown arena to replace the aging facility the Kings now call home.
But a Los Angeles law firm secretly donated $80,000 to a group gathering signatures to force a public vote on the arena plan.
Last month, the California Fair Political Practices Commission filed a lawsuit to learn the donor’s identity and revealed during a Friday news conference that it was Hansen.
In conjunction with the proposed settlement with the FPPC, I wanted to take the opportunity to give a more detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding my contribution to the Sacramento Arena Opposition.
• Prior to the May 15th NBA Board of Governors vote concerning the relocation of the Sacramento Kings, I engaged Loeb & Loeb to conduct background research concerning the viability of a new arena in Sacramento. This research involved an assessment of legal, economic, environmental, and political issues surrounding past and present efforts to build an arena in Sacramento. During this process (and again prior to May 15th), after being approached by Loeb on behalf of opposition members, I agreed that a portion of the funds paid to Loeb could, in the future, be used for political purposes if a broad-based political committee, consisting of other donors and independent of STOP, were established to oppose the effort to build an arena in Sacramento. 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.
• On June 21, 2013, I paid a legal bill from Loeb & Loeb that consisted of all legal fees incurred from March 2013 through May 2013 for the aforementioned background research and my prior commitment of up to $100,000 that could be directed toward the Sacramento Arena opposition assuming that certain conditions were met (a broad based political committee was set up with substantial other donors). On the same day (June 21, 2013), and without my knowledge or consent, Loeb & Loeb advanced $80,000 to GoCo consulting to collect signatures to qualify an initiative that would require a public vote on a new arena. At this time, a broad-based political committee had not yet been established, and I neither directed nor authorized Loeb & Loeb to make this expenditure on my behalf. During this entire process, I never spoke with, emailed, met, or had any correspondence with GoCo, Brandon Powers, STOP or Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods.
• Additionally, at the time it made the payment to GoCo, Loeb & Loeb did not inform me of either the payment to GoCo or of the need to file a major donor report. The first time I learned of the payment to GoCo was on August 10, 2013. It was only after a complaint was filed with the FPPC demanding an investigation into the source of the $80,000 payment that Loeb & Loeb informed me that some of my funds had been advanced to GoCo. Again, this was the first time I learned my funds had been directed toward signature gathering.
• After discussing the matter with Loeb over the weekend, I retained separate counsel on August 13. After having just three days to assess the situation with my new counsel, I filed a major donor report on August 16th. It is also important to note, that I was never informed of the FPPC’s intent to file a lawsuit on August 15th and had already taken steps to file my major donor report before the suit was filed.
These facts were confirmed by Loeb & Loeb, which is noted in the settlement stipulation.
While I believe this explanation should go a long ways in clearing up many of the misconceptions surrounding my involvement with Sacramento Arena opposition, it should not be taken as an attempt deflect criticism from the mistakes I clearly made. I take a lot of pride trying to do things the right way in my life, and I simply should have 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. I also should have taken steps to rescind my financial commitment following the outcome of the May 15 Board of Governors vote. Finally, although I’ve never made any political donations or contributions in my life prior to this (including contributions to PAC’s), with the benefit of hindsight I also should not have relied solely on Loeb’s expertise and discretion in handling this matter and clearly should have asked more questions earlier in the process.
But most importantly, I would again just like to re-iterate my commitment to stay out the Sacramento’s Arena efforts. In this regard, I would also like to highlight that I will take steps to prevent any signatures collected by GoCo from being submitted to the opposition. As it was never my intent to directly fund signature gathering efforts, I completely agree with the numerous Kings fans who have taken the time to write me and suggest this course of action. It is also important to note that this decision is not part of my proposed settlement with the FPPC, and is one I am making completely voluntarily. It’s clearly the right thing to do given the circumstances and I wish the City of Sacramento and the Kings the best in their efforts going forward.