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FPPC Votes to Allow Public Officials to Vote on Self-Appointment to Boards

Yesterday, the Fair Political Practices Commission (“FPPC”) voted 3-2 to adopt an amendment to Regulation 18705.5. The regulation allows local public officials to vote on their own appointments to compensated positions on various types of boards, including, for example, boards of county sanitation districts, joint powers authorities and local area planning organizations.

The FPPC’s amendment also requires that information about the boards be posted on the local agency’s website, including the name of the appointed official, the amount of compensation (stipend or salary) for the position and the term of the position.

Recently, the FPPC sent about 40 letters to Orange County council members informing them that they had violated the Political Reform Act (Government Code Section 81000, et seq.) when they voted to appoint themselves to local and regional governing bodies. 

In the letters to the council members, the FPPC’s rationale was that, for purposes of disqualification under Government Code sections 87100 and 87103, a public official has an economic interest in his or her personal finances.

A governmental decision will have an effect on an official’s personal finances if the decision will result in the personal expenses, income, assets or liabilities of the official or his or her immediate family increasing or decreasing.  (Title 2 C.C.R. 18703.5.)  A reasonably foreseeable effect on an official’s personal finances is material if it is at least $250.00 in a 12 month period (Title 2 C.C.R. 18705.5(a).)  “The financial effects of a decision which effects only the salary, per diem, or reimbursement for expenses the public official or a member of his or her immediate family receives from a federal, state, or local government agency shall not be deemed material, unless the decision is to appoint…the official…”  (Title 2 C.C.R. 18705.5(b).)  

The FPPC informed the Council members that their participation in decisions to appoint themselves to positions on agencies where they would be compensated by more than $250.00 a year violated the Act.  The council members who received these notices were not fined; they were only warned of their violations.

Yesterday’s reversal by the FPPC exempts California local officials from the above conflict rules and permits those officials to vote on paid appointments to local and regional governing boards. 

For more information about the FPPC’s action, please contact James M. Casso or Jon Calegari at 800-464-3559