Complaint Filed Against Chairman of Metropolitan Water District Board

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A local activist has filed a complaint with the state political watchdog against the chairman of Southern California’s largest water agency for failing to report water industry income to himself and his wife and voting on issues related to his wife’s consulting work.

Merle Moshiri, a Huntington Beach-based opponent of seawater desalination, mailed the complaint to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, alleging several violations of state law by John Foley, the chairman of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The FPPC received the complaint Tuesday, and its enforcement division will decide during the next two weeks whether to investigate the matter, a commission spokeswoman said.

Foley did not report on his mandatory financial disclosures at least $640,000 in income his wife received as consultant to various engineering firms, government agencies and other businesses that work in the water industry, Voice of OC reported last month. Additionally, questions have been raised over several of Foley’s votes on contracts with companies and agencies that were paying his wife as a consultant.

The website Surf City Voice first revealed much of the missing income and many of the votes under question.

Moshiri alleges that Foley violated three state laws numerous times by not disclosing either his wife’s consulting income or his as a consultant on the South Orange Coastal Ocean Desalination Project and voting four times as an MWD director to approve agreements and subsidies relating to desalination.

The FPPC can issue fines of up to $5,000 per violation of the Political Reform Act.

After Foley was questioned by Surf City Voice about the missing income last fall, he amended his forms to show it. He also has recently claimed that he and his wife have legally separated their property with a prenuptial agreement, which would exempt him from many of the conflict-of-interest regulations.

Foley had previously told the Surf City Voice, however, that the agreement doesn’t exist, and he has yet to produce it.

The MWD provides water to 19 million people in Southern California.

— NICK GERDA

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