“To the extent you circumvent campaign finance laws and you do it knowingly, this is serious,” said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who specializes in government ethics. “It looks like there was an intentional setup to flaunt the law.”
Berryhill becomes the fourth senator in recent months to be accused of misconduct, although unlike the other three, he does not face criminal charges.
Last month, the Senate suspended Democratic Sens. Ronald S. Calderon of Montebello, Leland Yee of San Francisco and Roderick Wright of the Inglewood area after they were hit with criminal charges. Wright was found guilty of lying about living in his Senate district, while Calderon and Yee have been indicted by federal authorities in separate cases for offering legislative favors for money.
Having a fourth case of misconduct reflects poorly on the Senate, Levinson said, although she does not think Berryhill's actions rise to the level of the criminal allegations against Yee and Calderon.
The scheme by Tom Berryhill disguised the true source of the money received by Bill Berryhill’s campaign and allowed Sen. Berryhill to circumvent the $3,600 contribution limit to a legislative candidate.