California lawmaker proposes tougher sanctions in corruption cases
Alarmed by public corruption allegations in San Bernardino County, a state lawmaker from that area has proposed to take away pensions and future public pay from elected officials’ staff members if they are convicted of a felony.
Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Yucaipa) said he introduced legislation in response to indictments issued last year against officials including former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane on charges of bribery, extortion and misappropriation of public funds.
The former chiefs of staffs for two other supervisors were also indicted in the case, which involves a $102-million settlement between the county and Colonies Partners after the developer sued challenging the county's easement rights at a development. None of those three officials has been convicted.
State law already requires elected officials to forfeit pensions and bans them from office if they are convicted of certain public corruption charges.
Cook said his two bills would extend those penalties to high-level staffers who work for elected officials. If the staffers are convicted of certain felonies, they would lose their public pension and be disqualified for five years from other public jobs.
"We’ve had a history of corruption in that county," Cook said. "When you are getting pension and salary benefits after you have been convicted of a felony as a public employee, it just seems absolutely ludicrous.’’
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Ex-San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul A. Biane was charged in a bribery case. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times