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Leaders of high-speed rail authority also were paid advisers to firms with something to gain from project

October 31, 2010 |  9:28 am

http://www.latimes.com/includes/soundslides/la-fi-disney/la-fi-disney01.jpg

Two prominent California High-Speed Rail Authority leaders who are already under scrutiny for holding potentially "incompatible" public offices have received tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees from firms with financial interests in the $43-billion project.

Rail board Chairman and Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, a public affairs consultant, has been an advisor to a major construction supplier that owns property along proposed bullet train routes, records and interviews show.

Other Pringle clients include a large corporate donor to the 2008 ballot campaign that secured high-speed rail funding and now hopes to win construction contracts. Pringle also represents the City of Industry, which has objected to a possible route through its freight train corridor.

Fellow board member Richard Katz sits on the Metrolink and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority boards. He too works as a public affairs consultant and for several years has advised Walt Disney Co.

The Disneyland Resort is an enthusiastic backer of the San Francisco-to-Anaheim bullet train project, which could serve millions of passengers at a proposed rail station just a short hop from the theme park. Disney also has interests in land along the rail right-of-way, specifically a ranch-style studio property close to the spot where the train would turn toward Palmdale as it exits the San Fernando Valley.

Pringle and Katz, both influential former state lawmakers, say they have not mixed their private business interests with their high-speed rail duties.

Pringle and his clients said they had not discussed the rail project and that any work performed by Curt Pringle & Associates was unrelated to his role with the authority.

Read more: "High-speed rail leaders receive consulting fees from firms with financial interests in project."

-- Rich Connell

Photo: Disneyland in Anaheim. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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