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Lawmaker Seeks To Expand State ‘Conflict Of Interest’ Rules

Sacramento, CA — A bill has been introduced that aims to toughen California’s current conflict of interest laws.

Sponsored by Democratic District 32 Senator Tony Mendoza, SB 1011 would expand upon the definition of family and what constitutes a financial conflict of interest for public officials in any votes they might cast relating to government contracts. This would include board and commission votes in addition to those made within a governmental body. Simply put, “Elected and government officials should abstain from voting when a family member has a financial interest or may benefit from the outcome of a public contract decision under the jurisdiction of that official,” Sen. Mendoza states.

The bill expands the definition of “remote interest” in government contract decisions to include parents, siblings and adult children, including the latter’s spouse, parent or siblings. Public officials with actual knowledge of such financial interests would only be considered within violation after knowingly withholding that information from their voting entity. Violation penalties include disqualification from holding any future office within the state, a possible prison sentence, and or up to a $1,000 fine. The bill would also allow local district attorneys or the State Attorney General to investigate and criminally prosecute alleged violations.