Backers continue fight for conflict-of-interest law

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Inland Valley Times

Backers of a law that puts broad conflict-of-interest limits on elected officials in five California cities were in court Friday arguing that a lawsuit brought by the city of Santa Monica was frivolous.

The law was approved by voters in Claremont, as well as Santa Monica, San Francisco and Pasadena. The law failed to qualify for the ballot in Irvine.

Claremont, Pasadena and Santa Monica have mostly ignored the law, which prevents any city official from taking money or jobs from companies or others that have benefited from a vote or other action by the official. City officials in Claremont have argued the law is unconstitutional. Santa Monica took the unusual step of suing its own City Clerk for not implementing the law. The City Council is seeking to have a judge decide on the law’s constitutionality.

Volunteers at the Oaks Project, which backed the law in the six cities, have argued that Santa Monica can’t sue itself.

“It’s impossible to have a true controversy in a case where both parties have taken the same position, and no one has truly been harmed,” Oaks Project officials said.

Claremont officials had tried to join Santa Monica’s lawsuit but the city was removed by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.

The next hearing scheduled in Santa Monica’s case is on Feb. 14.

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