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State ethics czar touts new emphasis on 'public trust' violations

65093485The chairwoman of the Huntington Beach Planning Commission is among four local officials facing fines this month in cases involving conflicts of interest, and Ann Ravel, the head of the California ethics agency, says the cases represent a new approach to enforcement.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission meets Thursday to consider the cases, which include a $2,000 fine agreed to by Huntington Beach Planning Commission Chair Barbara Delgleize.

"The FPPC agenda reflects a new emphasis on serious violations, such as conflicts of interest, which undermine public trust in government,’’ wrote Ravel, chairwoman of the commission, in a recent tweet.

Delgleize faces fines for voting last year to approve offices and apartments in a project by real estate developer Sares-Regis Group and failing to publicly report that, before the vote, she received a $520 campaign contribution from the company for her unsuccessful run for City Council.

She wrote to Ravel's agency that she broke the FPPC rules "erroneously and without malicious intent,'' adding she thought the contribution had been refunded. The real estate company has agreed to pay $3,500 in fines for its failure to disclose the contribution before the vote.

Another case to be considered Thursday involves Thomas Bartee,  a member of the Vallejo Redevelopment Agency, who voted on a design contract for a downtown improvement project even though he owned property within 500 feet of the targeted area, giving him a "material financial interest" in the project. He has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine.

The Times reported last week that the mayor of Oxnard and its suspended city manager face a combined $23,000 in fines from the FPPC on Thursday for failing to report gifts and participating in decisions involving a company that provided them with gifts that exceeded the legal limit.

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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: State Fair Political Practices Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel said the panel has a new emphasis on violations that "undermine public trust in government."  Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

 
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