Report I960159 Summary - August 1997

Investigative Report


Conflicts of Interest, Illegal Acceptance of Gifts, Failure To Report Gifts, and Improper Reimbursement of Expenses at the Teale Data Center

Results in Brief

We received an allegation under the Reporting of Improper Governmental Activities Act (act) that two officials of the Stephen P. Teale Data Center (Teale Data Center) violated provisions of the Political Reform Act of 1974, including conflicts of interest. Further, the complainant alleged that the first official improperly claimed reimbursement for expenses. In addition, the Teale Data Center reimbursed certain improper expenses incurred by the two officials.

We investigated and substantiated these allegations. Specifically, we found the following illegal or improper activities:

· From 1993 through 1996, an official at the Teale Data Center had conflicts of interest when he awarded $5.2 million in contracts and purchase orders to four vendors after accepting $3,176 in prohibited gifts from them. In addition, he failed to disclose these and other gifts.

· Another official accepted and failed to disclose prohibited gifts totaling approximately $1,000 from two vendors.

· The first official also improperly claimed reimbursement for more than $2,000 in educational expenses.

· The Teale Data Center improperly paid approximately $1,550 for luxury lodging, golf, and other expenses incurred by the two officials.

The Teale Data Center is within the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (agency); therefore, we submitted our report to the agency for response. Because the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is responsible for enforcing the Political Reform Act, the agency will await the outcome of the FPPC's review before deciding whether it will take disciplinary action against the officials based on violations of that law. Although the agency has not completed its corrective action, it has taken the following actions:

· Demanded that the two officials immediately reimburse the State for expenses improperly paid by the Teale Data Center.

· Directed that both officials and other Teale Data Center employees receive additional training concerning appropriate expenses and reporting of gifts.

· Initiated steps to review the Teale Data Center's conflict-of-interest code and statement of incompatible activities to ensure they are in full compliance with state law.