Consumer Watchdog Calls for Governor Brown to Fire Two DTSC Officials for Conflicts of Interest

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SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called for Governor Jerry Brown to fire two top officials at The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) for conflicts of interest. The letter said that the officials may have violated the California Code of Regulations by holding six and seven figure interests in companies regulated and/or licensed by the department while making decisions that could have affected those companies. “We are writing to ask that you dismiss two top managers at the California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control—Chief Deputy Director Odette Madriago and Deputy Director Stewart Black—for conflicts of interest,” the letter by consumer advocate Liza Tucker said.
See letter here:
Tucker is the author of a scathing report, Golden Wasteland, on how the DTSC is falling down on the job of regulating hazardous waste handlers and generators in the state by cutting out-of-court deals with serial breakers of environmental laws, levying wrist-slap fines, and refusing to revoke permits.
See report here:
See complete media coverage here:
The Consumer Watchdog letter said that according to government 700 forms covering the years 2006-2012, Ms. Madriago invested as much as $100,000 each in Chevron, BP Amoco, and Abbott Laboratories, and up to one million dollars in General Electric. Mr. Black holds stock in Royal Dutch Shell, and has invested up to $100,000 in chemical company McKesson. He has also invested in GE. “These companies either hold permits before the DTSC or have been the subject of corrective actions,” said Tucker. “At the same time, Ms. Odette Madriago has claimed that the department has no authority to regulate refineries broadly, when in fact the department does in fact have statutory authority. Refusing to act can be a conflict of interest in itself,” said Tucker.
Ms. Madriago was Acting Chief Deputy Director in 2011 when the DTSC lowered a fine against a division of Abbott called Abbott Vascular, to below $100,000 so it would not have to publicly report the fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission. That concern indicates that public reporting of the fine could have materially affected its stock price.
Tucker also said that DTSC officials are held captive by the industry they regulate. “It doesn’t help that we have a revolving door between regulators and industry lawyers and lobbyists,” she said.  In a recent Bay Area NBC news report, DTSC Director Debbie Raphael was seen walking away with hazardous waste industry lobbyist and lawyer Peter Weiner. “Ms. Raphael had no time to answer public questions about the department’s problems, but plenty of time to lunch with Mr. Weiner on Valentine’s Day,” said Tucker.
Mr. Weiner worked as an assistant on toxic substances control issues for Governor Brown during his first administration and his colleague at the San Francisco branch of the Paul Hastings law firm is Mr. Robert “Bob” Hoffman, former chief counsel at the DTSC and CAL EPA Chief of Staff. He represents hazardous waste management companies and companies that want to develop abandoned and contaminated property before the department.
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Liza Tucker
Liza Tucker
Liza Tucker is a consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog, following everything from oil and gas to the regulation of toxic substances in the state of California. She comes to us from Marketplace, the largest U.S. broadcast show on business and economics heard by ten million listeners each week on 400 radio stations. Liza worked at this public radio show for a decade, first as Commentary Editor and then as Senior Editor for both Washington and Sustainability News.

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