Claremont voters will decide conflict-of-interest measure

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Inland Valley Times

CLAREMONT — City Council members Tuesday decided to let voters decide on a law that would set several conflict-of-interest standards for Claremont public officials.

If legal challenges don’t derail it, the Taxpayer Protection Act will appear on the ballot for next spring’s city election. The law would define who city officials can accept campaign contributions from as well as who they can work for after leaving office.

More than 4,400 people in Claremont signed a petition earlier this year demanding the city put the measure on its election ballot.

The proposed law would cover city officials including employees, elected officials and those appointed to the city’s committees and commissions. They couldn’t take money or gifts from people, companies or organizations that have benefited from that official’s vote.

The goal, proponents say, is to restore public confidence in city government, ensuring that it is freed from conflicts of interest and undue political influence.

City Council members had worried that the measure would discourage people from serving the city, especially people associated with the colleges.

Claremont attorney Sonia Carvalho has said she believes the measure is unconstitutional, too broad, violates a contributor’s freedom of speech and unfairly limits a city official’s future employment.

Claremont was one of six California cities targeted by the Santa Monica-based Oaks Project. The same measure passed earlier this month in San Francisco and Santa Monica. Pasadena, like Claremont, is waiting for its city elections in March to consider the issue. Oaks Project volunteers just missed getting enough signatures in Irvine.

In Vista, in north San Diego County, the measure also passed, but the city challenged the measure in court. The city filed a competing measure that passed and could negate the Oaks Project measure.

An appeals court in San Diego County has agreed to hear the challenge and Pasadena attorneys have filed a brief in the case challenging the measure’s constitutional validity.

“Whatever decision comes down will have precedent for the rest of the state,” and could negate the measure before the March 6 election, Oaks Project organizer Paul Herzog said.

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