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Bill Seeks Tighter Conflict Of Interest Rules For Local Elected Officials

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). He was serving in the Assembly at the time of this 2012 file photo.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new bill at the state Capitol would impose tighter conflict-of-interest rules on local elected officials in California.

Currently, elected officials only need to recuse themselves from voting on contracts for immediate family members or their spouses if there’s a common financial interest – for example, if they live together, or co-own a business. Democratic state Senator Tony Mendoza says elected officials should recuse themselves even if there isn’t a direct financial relationship.

“If you violate this – which, by voting on the contract, you violated it – you’re done,” Mendoza says. “You can’t hold office again in California.”

Violators could also face fines or prison time.

It’s Mendoza’s second attempt to make this change. A similar measure died three years ago. The League of California Cities opposed that effort. It argued that genuine financial conflicts of interest are already regulated by existing law.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio