State Watchdog Clears Former Chairman of CalOptima Board

The state Fair Political Practices Commission has closed its investigation of former CalOptima board of directors Chairman Ed Kacic, saying there was insufficient evidence of any wrongdoing.

“I was confident that would happen,” said Kacic, president and CEO of the Irvine Health Foundation, who said he had discussions with FPPC staff and provided a variety of documents. “I was even more confident after dealing with the FPPC staff who were very thorough and professional throughout their efforts to ascertain the facts.”

The accusations against Kacic were leveled through an anonymous letter in February 2012 in the middle of a dramatic attempt by Supervisor Janet Nguyen, backed by two other supervisors, to remake the CalOptima board and give control to the medical industry and county government. Kacic opposed remaking the board.

The $1.5-billion CalOptima health plan provides Medicare and Medi-Cal health coverage to about 500,000 Orange County residents, most of them children.

When the anonymous letter surfaced, Nguyen, Supervisor Pat Bates and former Supervisor Bill Campbell voted to send it to the grand jury and the FPPC.

The grand jury later determined the anonymous letter was distributed on a fax machine belonging to the Orange County office of the Hospital Association of Southern California, known as HASC. So far no investigation has determined who wrote it.

“The county Board of Supervisors saw fit to use an anonymous memo with unfounded allegations against me [and refer it] to the FPPC,” said Kacic in a telephone interview Monday. “This appeared to me and many others to be blatantly political and part of an effort to control CalOptima.”

In a Jan. 14, 2014, letter to Kacic, FPPC Counsel Galena West wrote:

As you are aware, the Commission initiated an investigation regarding the allegation that you may have violated the prohibition against conflicts of interest when you, as Chair of CalOptima, directed staff to assist in projects on behalf of Managed System of Care.

The Enforcement Division has determined that there is insufficient evidence to find that you violated the Act in this particular circumstance. Therefore, we have decided to close this matter.

Separately, the FPPC is investigating four of the five county supervisors and the current CalOptima board of directors. There is no indication when that investigation will conclude.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of times Ed Kacic met with officials from the state Fair Political Practices Commission. We regret the error.

Please contact Tracy Wood directly at twood@voiceofoc.org and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/tracyVOC.

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