Earlier this year Councilwoman Kris Murray voted on a contractor’s report from the Willdan Group, her employer, FPPC regulations make it illegal for an elected official to vote on matters which have a financial impact on their personal interests. The law is crystal clear on the matter, you cannot vote on anything that involves your employer.
This latest bomb shell dropped on the pages of the Voice of OC this morning in the form of an investigative report by Adam Elmahrek.
The contract for Murray’s firm is the latest in a string of revelations at Anaheim City Hall regarding contracts given to firms connected to high-level officials and employees. Scott Fazekas, head of the city’s building division, resigned in October after a Voice of OC story revealed that his firm, Scott Fazekas & Assocates, received thousands of dollars in plan review work. Richard Brooks, an assistant under Fazekas, also resigned.
Prior to Fazekas, the plan review firm Charles Abbott Associates received the vast majority of Anaheim’s outsourced plan check work while a company’s employee, Steve Ahuna, was the city building division’s plan review supervisor, according to city invoices.
These revelations played a role in the City Council’s decision earlier this month to ask former City Manager Thomas Wood to resign, according to City Hall insiders. Wood’s resignation, which is effective in December, came after the City Council slashed his contract-signing authority from $250,000 to $100,000.
Read the complete story: Anaheim Contracts With Subsidiary of Councilwoman’s Firm
What I find particularly troubling is that Councilwoman Murray apparently had the good sense to resign her position with OCTA upon assuming her council position in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict. On December 7, 2010 Voice of OC’s Tracy Wood reported:
Newly-elected Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray is quitting her job as the Orange County Transportation Authority’s lobbyist manager “in the best interests” of the agency, she said Friday.
Murray will join Anaheim-based Willdan, a company that contracts with government agencies to perform engineering and other services.
Murray, OCTA’s executive director of government relations, oversees the work of the agency’s lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington. She said her new position as Willdan’s senior vice president for business development and government affairs won’t include working with lobbyists.
She said as she moves into her new “high-profile position” as an elected official, it is better to work for a private company.
Willdan and its executives also donated nearly $4,000 to her city council campaign. In the past, the firm has been a major donor to California political candidates and causes, giving about $120,000 in 2006 to Republicans, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Democrats.
It is likely that Murray felt that since her vote simply involved a contractors report and not the actual contract that she didn’t need to highlight her relationship with Willdan by abstaining from the vote. After all, with all the attention on pay to play contracts recently, no need to turn the lights on any brighter.
If anyone is interested in filing an FPPC complaint regarding the matter you can find out how at the FPPC website here.