Among the more difficult tasks facing regulators and government watchdogs is policing the ways private interests of elected and other high-level officials can interfere with their public offices.
This is especially difficult in Orange County, where the vast majority of city council and governing board members are part-timers who need income beyond their public service stipends.
Consequently all public officials above a certain level must file official statements of economic interest that are essentially a list of businesses, stocks, real estate, and other sources of income.
These statements, known as Form 700s, are essential to the state’s conflict-of-interest laws. Council members, for example, are not allowed to vote on council matters that could bring business to their companies, drive up their stocks or otherwise enhance their economic interests, according to Fair Political Practices Commission regulations.
Voice of OC occasionally posts Form 700s to inform the public where these interests lie. Today we’re reviewing the Anaheim City Council.
Anaheim council members’ reported interests range from an environmental consulting firm that lists other cities as clients to being officer of a corporation that owns three El Pollo Loco restaurants.
The following is a rundown of the most recent Form 700s, which report interests through the end of 2010. (Click here to see the actual forms.)
Mayor Tom Tait:
- Between $10,001 and $100,000 of stock in each following companies: Benchmark Electronics, Boeing Co. and Citigroup Inc.
- Between $100,001 and $1,000,000 of stock in Pep Boys and CKE Restaurants and interest in the limited liability company Nursery Products. (Statement shows disposal of CKE stock on July 2, 2010.)
- President of and 50 percent shareholder in Tait & Associates Inc., an engineering services company worth more than $1,000,000. Tait received more than $100,000 from the company. The list of clients range from the city of Victorville to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
- President of and 50 percent shareholder in Tait Environmental Services Inc., an environmental compliance and remediation company. Tait received more than $100,000 from the company. The list of clients range from AT&T to Galaxy Oil Co.
- Co-trustee in the Thomas F. Tait Family Trust, worth more than $1,000,000. Sources of income include Platinum Triangle Partners LLC and Tait Environmental Services. Tait received more than $100,000 from the trust.
- Twenty-five percent ownership in a limited liability company that controls two commercial buildings in Santa Ana. The market value of the buildings is between $100,001 and $1,000,000.
- Partner in Willow Springs Investments, which holds 160 acres of “raw county land” in Kern County. Tait lists his holding in the partnership at 38.59 percent.
- Twenty-three percent ownership in a limited liability company that controls two industrial buildings in Anaheim. The market value of the buildings is between $100,001 and $1,000,000.
- A lease in Anaheim valued between $10,001 and $100,000.
- A loan from his environmental services company of $100,000 at 5 percent interest for a 12-month term.
- A Lakers basketball game ticket worth $184 from restaurant owner Jerry O’Connell.
- Flowers valued at $100 from John Carpino, president of the Angels baseball franchise.
Councilman Harry Sidhu:
- Secretary of SRH Management Inc., which owns three El Pollo Loco restaurants in Orange County. The company is worth more than $1,000,000 and has property at three addresses worth more than $1,000,000. Sidhu received more than $100,000 from the company.
- Ownership of properties in Anaheim, San Juan Capistrano and Huntington Beach. He received between $1,001 and $10,000 in rental income for each of the San Juan Capistrano properties and between $10,001 and $100,000 for the Huntington Beach properties.
Councilwoman Kris Murray:
- Husband is vice president of Red Hill Construction Services, a construction management company based in Santa Ana. He received more than $100,000 in income from the company.
- Senior vice president of Wildan, a business development and government affairs company based in Anaheim. She received more than $100,000 from the company.
Councilwoman Lorri Galloway:
- Stock in Mag M’s, a technology company, worth between $2,000 and $10,000.
- Executive director of the Eli Home for Abused Children. She received between $10,001 and $100,000 for her work.
- Husband is a construction contractor. He received between $10,001 and $100,000.
- A movie premier and reception at the Anaheim International Film Festival, a gift valued at $150.
- Dinner from the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, a gift valued at$100
Councilwoman Gail Eastman:
- Stocks worth between $2,000 and $10,000 each in Dell Inc., National Oilwell Varco and AFLAC Inc.
- Between $10,001 and $100,000 from R & G Eastman Enterprises. Her investment in the company was between $2,000 and $10,000.
- A property investment worth between $100,001 and $1,000,000 in Anaheim.
- Free admission to Disneyland for herself and “Anaheim visitors and community members” 16 times during one year. The total value was $3,896.
The Fair Political Practices Commission manual on Form 700s states the limit on gifts from a single source is $420. Eastman acknowledged on her Form 700 that she misunderstood the rules on reporting gifts:
“A VIP pass was used to walk Anaheim visitors and community members into the park. I did not stay or use the park personally, so was not aware that this would need to be reported as a gift until filling out the most recent 700 form, as a result I will be paying back Disney for everything over the gift limit.”
— ADAM ELMAHREK