Disclosure forms open window on officials'
conflicts of interest
Published: January 18, 2013
CITY ATTORNEY Don Freeman owns
rental property in Seaside, a law firm in Carmel and a
one-eighth share of the building it’s in, along with a myriad of
Wall Street investments. Mayor Jason Burnett owns a lot of
stock, including shares of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and, of course,
Hewlett-Packard. Police Chief Mike Calhoun has a painting
business, and his wife works for the Diocese of Monterey. City
councilman Steve Hillyard owns stock in Chevron, while planning
commissioner Steve Dallas has several rental properties in town.
These are among the facts gleaned from “statements of economic
interests” which California requires public officials to
disclose. In order to guard against high-level officials making
decisions for their own economic benefit, the California Fair
Political Practices Commission requires they file statements
each year declaring their investments, properties, gifts and
other assets that could influence them.
While the governor and his cabinet, assemblymen, senators and judges all have to file the statements, so do local officials, including mayors and city council members, the county board of supervisors, county and city planning commissioners, treasurers, the district attorney, city managers, city attorneys and high-ranking law-enforcement officers, as well as anyone else entrusted with the investment of public funds.
According to the FPPC, the statements, known as Form 700s, “are
an important means for the official that files them, the media
and the public to help gauge where potential conflicts of
interest may exist.” The officials don’t have to disclose their
primary residences but must include information about their
income sources, investments, business positions, real estate
holdings and any gifts they received that were worth more than
“Merely reporting an economic interest is not a conflict in
itself; a conflict arises when an official governmental
decision, made by the official, impacts his economic interests,”
according to the FPPC.
Carmel deputy city clerk Molly Laughlin provided the paperwork
for elected and appointed officials, contractors and employees
in 2011, as well as the forms of those who took office in 2012,
and said the forms for 2012 are due in April.
Lots of stock
Hired more than a year ago, city administrator Jason Stilwell
moved to Carmel from Santa Barbara and has “no reportable
financial interests,” according to his disclosure form. Neither
does city councilwoman Victoria Beach, her form says, while
Hillyard said his investment in Chevron stock is worth between
$10,001 and $100,000, and councilman Ken Talmage reported that
his water filtration company, which is based in Manteca, is
valued at more than $1 million. He earns more than $100,000 in
salary as its chairman.
Burnett declared that he is the beneficiary of an individual
trust which holds stock in Agilent Technologies worth $100,001
to $1 million, as well as a marital trust, which is much
smaller, he said. He also owns a company that arranges financing
for green energy projects. The company, Burnett EcoEnergy LLC,
is valued between $10,001 and $100,000, he said, but he did not
report receiving a salary from it. Burnett’s largest
investments, worth $100,001 to $1 million, are in Old Westbury
Private Equity Fund IX and Hewlett-Packard, of which his
grandfather, David Packard, was a founder. Burnett’s other stock
holdings worth $10,001 to $100,000 included Baxter International
healthcare, Cisco Systems, McDonald’s and Wells Fargo, while
stocks valued between $2,000 and $10,000 included Berkshire
Hathaway, Coca-Cola, Discover Financial Services, Morgan Stanley
and HSBC Holdings.
Calhoun listed his painting business, Finishes by Calhoun, and
stated earnings at $10,001 to $100,000, as well as income in the
same range earned by his wife, who is a teacher’s assistant at
Junipero Serra School in the Carmel Mission.
Freeman, who also works as city attorney for Seaside, disclosed
that he owns a home in Pacific Grove, a rental property in
Seaside, his law firm and part of the building it occupies on
San Carlos Street. His retirement plan through the City of
Seaside is worth $100,001 to $1 million, he said. He also has
investments held by UBS valued between $100,001 and $1 million
and others held by Regal Discount Securities worth $10,001 to
$100,000. Freeman’s individual stock holdings include Apple,
Southwest Airlines, Mesa Air, Johnson & Johnson, Walgreen
Co., Time Warner, Philip Morris, Motorola, Symantec, AOL, Kraft
Foods, Kansas City Southern, GE, Dow Chemical and others. As
legal counsel for Carmel, Seaside and the Association of
Monterey Bay Area Governments, he earns between $10,001 and
$100,000 from each in salary. (His contract with the City of
Carmel is for $7,500 per month.)
Dallas, meanwhile, reported owning five properties in Carmel,
all of which he rents out. Four brought in between $10,001 and
$100,000 in 2011, while the fifth generated between $1,001 and
Commissioners Keith Paterson and Don Goodhue said they have “no
reportable interests,” while commissioner Jan Reimers said she’s
an owner of the Stonehouse Terrace complex on San Carlos Street
south of Seventh, which includes an apartment, shops, offices
and a restaurant. She reported the value of the complex exceeds
$1 million and that she earned between $10,001 and $100,000 from
it in 2011.
Questions lead to corrections
Councilwoman Carrie Theis filed her Form 700 with the city in
September 2012 indicating she had no financial interests that
met the criteria for being reported, as did planning
commissioner Michael LePage in June 2012. Although their
signatures at the bottom of the page follow the declaration, “I
certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of
California that the foregoing is true and correct,” both failed
to mention the businesses they operate in the city.
Following inquiries with the city about the missing information, Theis and LePage filed amended Form 700s.
As CFO and general manager of the Hofsas House hotel, of which
she is also an owner, Theis reported the business is worth more
than $1 million, she earned more than $100,000 from it in 2011,
and that a house on the hotel property valued between $100,001
and $1 million generates annual rent between $10,001 and
LePage’s amended form disclosed that he owns the general
contracting business, LePage Construction, and said he earned
$200,000 on construction projects in the city in 2011.