Sen. Mendoza proposes conflict of interest legislation

SACRAMENTO – State Sen. Tony Mendoza has introduced legislation that he says would help prevent corruption in government contracting. SB 330 would define what family relationships would constitute a financial conflict of interest for a public official in voting on public contracts before any governmental body, board or commission of which that public officer is a member.

“I want to make sure that elected and government officials abstain from voting when a family member has a financial interest or may benefit in the outcome of a public contract decision under the jurisdiction of that official,” said Mendoza.

“In the wake of scandals over the past several years, I believe it is time for California to strengthen its conflict of interest laws,” he added. “We need to restore accountability and the public’s trust in government.”

Specifically, SB 330 would amend the Government Code to define when a public official is deemed to have a financial interest in a public contract to include situations where the public officer’s spouse, child, parent, sibling or the spouse of the child, parent or sibling has a financial interest in any contract under consideration in his or her official capacity.

Under current law, any public official who has a direct or indirect financial conflict of interest must disqualify themselves from voting or participating in decisions related to that contract.

A violation of the law will result in disqualification from ever holding any office in California, prison time and/or a fine of not more than $1,000.

A local district attorney or the California Attorney General would have the authority to investigate alleged violations and the discretion to pursue criminal prosecution. If they decide not to pursue a criminal prosecution, they can turn the case over to the Fair Political Practices Commission for an administrative or civil action.

The proposed law would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

 

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Published: March 12, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 48