Watchdog Group Fines 5 California Public Officials

     (CN) - In exchange for a $4,000 fine for abusing conflict of interest rules, the president of the Manila Community Services District can enjoy a conservation park next to her house in Humboldt County. Debra Dengler is one of five public officials fined by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for voting on projects in which they had undisclosed financial interests.
     To pave the way for the district to buy land for use in its parks and conservation program, Dengler voted on numerous agenda items, including the final vote to purchase.
     A director of the El Camino Irrigation District, Jerry "Pat" Maguire, was fined $7,000 for twice voting to install a pipeline within 500 feet of property he owned - even though two of his fellow directors sent him letters telling him they that it was a conflict of interest for him to participate in discussions or vote on the project.
     Kern County Supervisor Michael Rubio was fined $3,500 for voting in favor of providing a service contract to the nonprofit where his wife worked. Rubio waited to disclose his wife's income as a dental hygienist for Clinica Sierra Vista on a statement of economic interests until after the clinic got a $134,000 contract to become the county's health care service provider.
     John Anderson, finance director and city administrator for the city of Dunsmuir, was fined $3,000 for asking the Dunsmuir city council to hire Great Northern Corp. to administer $600,000 in community development block grant funds without disclosing that he had received over $67,000 in income from Great Northern for bookkeeping services through a company he owned called One-to-One Bookkeeping.
     Henry "Skip" Veatch was fined $3,000 failing to disclose that he had received income from the Alpine Children's Center before voting as a member of the Alpine County board of supervisors to grant the center a contract to provide early childhood education programs to the county.
     The Fair Political Practices Commission was created by the California Political Reform Act of 1974 to regulate and enforce political campaign, lobbying and conflict of interest laws.
     In addition to the conflict of interest notices, which were announced on Friday, the commission also announced that it had fined 35 other officials for violations including campaign reporting and late contributions.