Locked in a tight re-election bid, Assemblyman William Hoge, R-South Pasadena, is under attack from Democratic lawmakers for a loan he received from a legislative aide whose salary more than tripled because of pay hikes Hoge helped him secure.

Assembly Minority Leader Richard Katz, D-Panorama City, said he was “suspicious” about the loan and intends to ask the California Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate.

“It’s the type of stuff an independent agency must look at because it’s so murky,” Katz said.

Hoge declined comment. The aide who made him the loan, Brent ten Pas, did not return phone calls.

FPPC spokesman Gary Huckaby said the agency is not currently investigating Hoge, who chairs the Assembly’s Governmental Organization committee.

Hoge, who is in a hotly contested re-election fight in the 44th Assembly District against Democrat Jack Scott, accepted a loan exceeding $10,000 last year from ten Pas, records and interviews show.

In March of this year, ten Pas received the last of several raises – a 50 percent boost that was made retroactive by at least four months, state records show. He now earns $72,000 a year as chief consultant to the GOP caucus – more than triple the $20,412 he was paid as a Hoge aide in 1992.

Republicans dismissed Katz’s questions about Hoge and ten Pas as a partisan shot designed to influence the outcome of the Hoge-Scott race.

“We have a month before the election, and this is a key race that the Democrats will do anything to win, including exaggeration,” said John Nelson, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Kurt Pringle, R-Garden Grove.

“It’s a little fantastic to say Hoge got a loan from Brent ten Pas and agreed to pay him by back by giving raises,” Nelson said.

“The truth is that Brent is one of the top five staffers in experience. He is finally getting the money he is worth.”

Katz said he is “for the Democrat in the (44th District) race – no question about it,” but insisted that the loan and raises warrant investigation.

“This has the extraordinary nature of retroactive raises . . . a tripling of ten Pas’ salary and then Hoge getting a personal loan from the person he has given raises to,” Katz said.

Ten Pas’ last raise was requested by both Hoge and Pringle, Nelson confirmed. Records show that four of the five remaining boosts were directly requested by Hoge.

A March 1995 salary jump was requested by the Assembly’s then-top GOP official, Jim Brulte, R-Rancho Cucamonga. On Friday, Brulte said ten Pas was just one of many Republican staffers who got raises then to begin “achieving parity” with their Democratic counterparts.

Hoge’s district includes Pasadena, South Pasadena, Sunland-Tujunga, La Crescenta, La Canada Flintridge and parts of Glendale.

Hired as a 26-hour-a-week aide for Hoge in December 1992, ten Pas received three raises and a 5 percent cost-of-living adjustment that increased his yearly salary from $20,412 to $34,992 by Jan. 1, 1994, employment records show.

By then, ten Pas was working full time and had risen to “chief consultant” to Hoge as a member of the Assembly Rules Committee, records show.

In July 1994, ten Pas won an additional 10 percent raise. In March 1995 – the year he made the loan to Hoge – he got a 21.1 percent hike, upping his salary from $39,648 to $48,000 when he moved to the Republican Caucus as a legislative assistant, employment records indicate.

A year later, on March 25, 1996, ten Pas was promoted to a principal consultant to the caucus, bumping his annual salary to $72,000 – a fifty percent increase. That $2,000-a-month boost is being financed entirely by Hoge’s office and was made retroactive nearly four months, to Dec. 1, 1995, records show.

Today, ten Pas works out of Hoge’s South Pasadena office, said Tony Gonzalez, the GOP Caucus’ staff director.

Nelson said the retroactive raise that ten Pas and other GOP staffers received aren’t really retroactive since they were promised in December but held up by former Assembly Speaker Brian Setencich, a Fresno Republican considered a turncoat because he was elected to his leadership post by the Democrats.

“All Kurt did was what was promised, and we did it for Democrats and Republicans alike,” Nelson said.

The average salary for a Caucus employee is in the $40,000 to $45,000 range, Gonzalez said. The Caucus provides both policy support for Legislature committees and services for individual Assembly members in areas such as mailings and communications, officials said.

On his amended disclosure statement covering 1995, Hoge said he was repaying the loan at 7 percent interest.