Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog today asked the Fair Political Practices Commission to review whether top Assembly communications chief Steve Maviglio broke the law by having economic interests as a private consultant on legislation while influencing Assembly decisions about that legislation, and for holding stock in fracking companies while influencing anti-fracking legislation.
The nonprofit public interest group also asked whether two other top Assembly aides who held stock in fracking companies, while anti-fracking legislation stalled in the Assembly, should have recused themselves as well.
State law requires that legislative aides recuse themselves officially from governmental decisions in which they have an economic interest of over $2,000. Maviglio, who works privately for lobbyist employers as a consultant while serving the Assembly, argues that he is simply “marketing” legislation, not influencing decisions, but the FPPC guidance applies to those who contribute to public decision making as well.
“In the age when polling and public opinion are often the most important influence on legislative decisions, it’s outrageous to claim that the top communications officer in the Assembly doesn’t influence the Speaker’s decision making,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. “The conflict of interest statutes require official recusal because the public deserves to know that aides’ private pecuniary interests are not dictating public policy. It’s not up to Maviglio to decide how much influence he has over a decision. His only duty is to follow the law and recuse himself from any decision that impacts his bank account.”
The FPPC guidance follows: http://www.fppc.ca.gov/index.php?id=37
Consumer Watchdog had previously asked the FPPC to review four top aides to Assembly Speaker John Perez who have significant financial holdings in fracking companies. Communications Chief Maviglio, who claims significant income from environmental consulting work, reported in his Statement of Economic Interests up to $1 million in investments in Linn Energy, a fracking company, and soon to be parent of Berry Fracking, which has large California fracking interests. Maviglio contends he sold the stock shortly after taking office, but his Statement of Economic Interests form does not reflect this fact. Two other top Assembly aides have similar holdings – Katie Vavao, of the Speaker’s Office of Member Services, and Linda Roper-Ayala of Rules Committee. Vavao holds stock in Exxon Mobil and PPL Corporation, both frackers, and Roper-Ayala has stock in Pacific Gas & Electric and Alliant Energy. Greg Campbell, the Assembly Speaker’s Chief of Staff, held $25,000 in Chevron stock but was on leave during the decision-making.
The anti-fracking legislation took mysterious and unprecedented turns in the Assembly before dying, including the recall back from the Senate of one bill that had already passed the Assembly. Environmentalists reported to Consumer Watchdog the odd course of the bills and conflicts among the aides.