Audit: Former County Finance Director Didn’t File Disclosure

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Bob Franz, the former Orange County chief financial officer who served at the county’s interim CEO in the wake of the Carlos Bustamante sex crime charges, failed to file a required financial interest disclosure in 2012, according to a county internal audit report released last week.

Franz didn’t file the state-mandated disclosure, also known as Form 700, covering calendar year 2011 for his membership on the county’s Treasury Oversight Committee, according to the report by Internal Auditor Peter Hughes. Franz’s report was due last April.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Todd Spitzer said Franz had told him he thought he had filed the form. Clerk of the Board Susan Novak said she had no record of ever receiving the filing.

Franz, who recently retired when new county CEO Mike Giancola stepped into the job, is now in the process of filing the 2011 disclosure, officials said.

Hughes’ report also found that oversight committee member Andy Dunn may have violated the county’s gift ban ordinance when he accepted a $75 meal from broker Morgan Stanley.

The county’s 1993 gift ban ordinance generally prohibits certain county officials, including the oversight committee’s members, from accepting meals worth more than $5 from businesses.

Spitzer called the $5 limit “an impossible amount of money.”

The treasurer-tax collector’s office agreed to Hughes’ recommendation that it start reviewing the oversight committee’s Form 700s for potential conflicts of interest.

The Form 700 disclosures, also known as statements of economic interests, list an official’s income, real estate, stocks, gifts and other financial sources that could conflict with a their official duties.

They’re often key documents in finding links between officials’ financial interests and their decisions.

For example, they helped reveal that a local water official voted to award more than $9 million to two engineering firms that had paid his wife more than $20,000 for consulting work.

While nearly all high-ranking state and local officials are required to file Form 700s annually, many of them are not available online.

Some local agencies, however, do post their Form 700s on the Web. They include the cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana and Costa Mesa.

During Tuesday’s discussion, Spitzer also said he and supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson will be visiting San Bernardino County to learn more about that county’s approach of having the state Fair Political Practices Commission enforce local campaign contribution limits.

Local campaign watchdog Shirley Grindle, who wrote Orange County’s campaign finance ordinance, has emphasized that any such contract should ensure speedy response times for investigations into potential violations.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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