H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Jun 11, 2013 1:17 AM by Katherine Worsham, KSBY News

Former Santa Barbara County Supervisor fined in conflict of interest case

Former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joni Gray is being fined $3,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

The Enforcement Division of the agency determined Gray violated the Political Reform Act during her time as supervisor.

Gray was a member of the Board of Supervisors from 1998 to 2012. During that time, she was also a partner in the firm Wittenburg, O'Neill & Gray, LLP. One of the firm's clients was the Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation (LHCDC).

According to state documents, in April of 2008, Gray voted as a supervisor to authorize a $50,000 loan to the LHCDC.

According to the report, this is a violation of the act because Gray made a governmental decision on a matter in which she knew she had a financial interest.

The report goes on to say Gray has cooperated with the agency's Enforcement Division and agreed to the $3,000 penalty.

"I have been working with the FPPC for the past year in an effort to settle this alleged conflict of interest," Gray told KSBY in a statement on Tuesday. "I do not now nor never did see this issue as a conflict in that my law partnership was designed so that each partner worked independently of the others. Only the partner that worked on a case received income from the client. However, in order to put this issue behind me I paid this substantially reduced fine."

The full board of the Fair Political Practices Commission will decide whether to accept the settlement agreement at its meeting on June 20th.

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