Trying to Lock the ‘Revolving Door’

The Orange County Transportation Authority board this week adopted a new policy intended to prevent its public members from resigning and immediately begin lobbying the board on behalf of private clients, a practice known politically as the “revolving door.”

The action came in the wake of the sudden resignation last spring of board member Peter Buffa, who held one of the two public seats on the 17-member board. Within weeks of leaving OCTA, Buffa was at meetings with existing board members in New York, representing an investment firm that does business with OCTA.

State law prohibits elected officials from contacting former colleagues for a year on behalf of a business or group that works with an agency. But a loophole in the law means it doesn’t apply to nonelected officials who sit on government boards.

State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) is considering introducing legislation in January to close the loophole.

The OCTA action carries no legal weight. But even though there is no punishment to anyone who violates the rule, board members have said they believe it would act as a deterrent, because existing board members wouldn’t want to communicate with someone they knew was in violation of board policies.

The new rule was adopted unanimously.