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Public Contracting Update: Court of Appeal Rules on Conflicts of Interest Involving Independent Contractors

The California Court of Appeals recently held in Strategic Concepts, LLC v. Beverly Hills Unified School District that an independent contractor can be considered a “public official” for the purpose of determining conflicts of interest under Government Code section 1090. It is critical for public agencies to understand how section 1090 applies to independent contractors and what to do to avoid potential violations because penalties are severe – the contract is deemed void, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has the authority to fine violators, and criminal sanctions may apply in extreme cases.

Meyers Nave Principal and former FPPC Commissioner Eric Casher published an article in California Special Districts magazine that explains the impact of the Strategic Concepts decision and provides an overview of the law related to 1090 conflicts of interest involving independent contractors. Eric also provides information about how to spot issues relating to 1090 and practical steps that can be taken to prevent violations. The decision in Strategic Concepts confirmed several Court of Appeals decisions, mirrors the position of the FPPC, and aligns with the California Supreme Court’s holding in People v. Superior Court (Sahlolbei, 2017).

Please click here to read Eric’s article.