Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido voted for a $1.35-million no-bid city contract with a local auto parts firm just over a year after he and members of his family purchased a home from the store owner for $230,000 less than its fair market value, and did not disclose that information as required by law. The discovery of that fact, uncovered and first reported by the investigative news publication Voice of OC last November, prompted a still unresolved investigations by the Santa Ana City Attorney — and likely the Orange County District Attorney, which at least one ethics expert said could have been a bribe.
The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has opened its own investigation of the matter prompted, not by the usual formal complaint but, by the Voice of OC story. News of the FPPC probe was first reported Monday by the Los Angeles Times. The FPPC is investigating possible violations by the mayor, according to a Feb. 18 letter from the agency.
Voice of OC reports:
In addition to possibly casting an illegal vote on that contract, conflict of interest experts said that the mayor potentially violated the state’s limit on gifts to public officials, which at the time was $420.
Under the Political Reform Act, public officials can only purchase real estate and other things at fair market value. A discount purchase can be made only if the same deal is offered to the public at large.
That means the property swap could have represented up to an illegal $230,000 gift to the mayor depending on the size of his interest in the home, according to conflict of interest experts.
Read the complete Voice of OC story HERE.
Only time, and the conclusion of these ongoing investigations, will tell whether this matter will prove to be the blow that knocks Miguel Pulido from his position of elected power.