The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) says Irvine Council Member Christina Shea is the subject of an “existing investigation” prior to receiving a formal complaint on Shea from TheLiberalOC.
In a letter dated January 22, 2016, the FPPC informed this blog that “since the allegations in your complaint are the subject of an existing investigation, we will not open a new investigation on this matter. Your complaint has been incorporated into our ongoing investigation.”
Shea may address the FPPC investigation at tonight’s Irvine City Council meeting, and its hoped Shea will release the contents of a letter from the City Attorney she says clears her of wrongdoing which the city won’t release to the public. Shea referenced the letter in her public comments at the last city council meeting and in comments on this blog.
The LiberalOC filed a formal complaint against Shea for alleged conflict of interest in her role as a Government Relations consultant for KIA Motors and her role as a city council member doing “constituent services” for KIA. The Voice of OC inspired the complaint with a story that ran late last year.
From the story: “However, a good government expert said even if the communications weren’t illegal, they were unethical, and that Shea should “either work for KIA, or work for the city, but she really shouldn’t be doing both.”
“How does it look? It doesn’t look good,” said Bob Stern, co-author of the 1974 Political Reform Act.
The state’s Political Reform Act makes it an illegal conflict of interest for public officials to try and influence decisions at their public agencies. But according to Stern, it’s possible that the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which enforces violations with fines, won’t go after Shea because the decisions on things like permits don’t rise to a significant monetary value for KIA.
“The question is how much is she being paid, and how much is the decision worth?” Stern said.
It is unclear how the FPPC investigation of Shea began. But it clearly was underway before we filed our formal complaint, so Ms. Shea can’t blame us for starting this.