Weekly Recap Ethics News and Trends – January 20, 2014

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Public servants with the utmost integrity also need to be aware of what is happening ethically around the state. In today’s climate, every public agency’s image is impacted by the missteps or misconduct of others. Below you’ll find a sample of recent news stories about ethical principles, values and ethics laws. One of the best practices available to all of us is to learn from the mistakes or stories of others.

Here is a sample of the stories from January 13th to January 19th:

Kinde Durkee short in restitution for $10.5-million theft

By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, January 17, 2014

Where did the funds go?

More than a year after campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee was ordered to repay $10.5 million she embezzled from the accounts of dozens of politicians, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, federal officials say they have only been able to recover $94,468.60 from liquidation of her assets to go to restitution.

Two groups that used secret political donations haven’t paid penalties

By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2014

Difficult to hold dark money groups accountable.

State authorities have yet to receive $15 million in penalties they imposed on campaign groups after a headline-making investigation into secret political donations.

Senate ethics chief calls allegations against Sen. Calderon troubling

By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2014

How far will this story reach?

The chairman of the state Senate’s ethics panel looking into actions of Sen. Ronald S. Calderon said Thursday that allegations against the Democratic lawmaker contained in a leaked FBI affidavit are troubling if true.

Sheriff’s Department wrongly keeps inmates’ money, audit finds

By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2014

What is yours is mine. Well, maybe not.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials inappropriately kept more than $1 million belonging to county inmates in a two-year period, an audit released Thursday found.

Government Code Section 1090:

FULL STORY: Hospital board director Hudson arrested Monday

By Jaclyn Randall, Palo Verde Valley Times, January 16, 2014

Always be aware of both direct and indirect financial interests.

Riverside County District Attorney arrested Palo Verde Health Care District Board Director Sandra Hudson at her home on the afternoon of Jan. 13 on a felony charge of conflict of interest.

Perks/Gifts/Salaries/Expenses/Public Resources:

Antioch defines rules for elected officials not to be paid during extended absences

By Paul Burgarino, Contra Costa Times, January 15, 2014

Absences are considered not compensated.

If you’re an elected official in this city and you’re gone for a month or more for nonmedical reasons, you should not get paid.

City probing county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ garage

By Paul Pringle and Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2014

Favors or special treatment can also be cause for concern.

Los Angeles city building inspectors launched an investigation Thursday into whether county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has an illegally converted garage at his Leimert Park home, where government employees recently performed thousands of dollars worth of work.

Work at Ridley-Thomas’ residence went beyond security system

By Jack Leonard and Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2014

A taxpayer-funded project to provide a home security system for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas included improvements to his converted garage that involved a week of work and upgrades to the building’s electrical service, according to interviews and records.

Ralph M. Brown Act:

Monterey County district attorney asked to investigate Brown Act allegations

By Jim Johnson, Monterey Herald, January 15, 2014

Cause for concern?

In the wake of heavy criticism and a lawsuit, Monterey County Counsel Charles McKee announced Tuesday he has asked the district attorney to investigate alleged violations of the state’s open meetings law by the Board of Supervisors and the Water Resources Agency board.

Royal Calkins: Secret meetings a mistake made without malice

By Royal Calkins, Monterey Herald, January 17, 2014

Was this an unintentional technical violation or something more?

Something should be said before the county’s “Brown Act Blues” controversy moves too far along. It’s simply that there’s no reason to suspect our county supervisors of evil intentions when they held a series of sketchy closed-door meetings with their top staffers.

 

Topics:  Compliance, Corruption, Embezzlement, Ethics, Fraud, Political Contributions, White Collar Crimes

Published In: Administrative Agency Updates, Elections & Politics Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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