Private Clients Of Senator Hertzberg May Create Conflict Of Interest With Public Duties And Must Be Disclosed, Says Consumer Watchdog

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Santa Monica, CA – State Senator Robert Hertzberg (San Fernando Valley) must disclose the clients he represents at his second job with a Los Angeles law firm to assure the public no conflict of interest exists, or will develop, between his public duties and private responsibilities, wrote Consumer Watchdog in a letter to Hertzberg today. Senator Hertzberg was appointed chair of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee and just proposed a major overhaul of the state’s tax laws that could benefit some corporations at the expense of other industries.

Download the letter:

“Disclosure of your clients will allow Californians to gauge the net impact on these clients if your tax proposal is adopted, and whether any conflict exists between their business interests and the public interest,” wrote Carmen Balber and Cody Rosenfield for Consumer Watchdog. “Any state official who maintains a business while serving in the state legislature should reveal to every extent possible their economic interests.”

“Glaser Weil is secretive about its clients, however those that are public include industries with perennial issues before the legislature, for example: MGM Grand, Occidental Petroleum, Bank of America and Southern California Gas Company. Such clients from across California’s major industries increase the possibility that a conflict of interest could develop between your public duties and your responsibility to advance those clients’ interests.”

A Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests filed by Senator Hertzberg in March of 2014 is out of date, disclosing his former firm and containing no client list, wrote the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

The letter continued, “…unlike a real estate agent or the owner of a grocery store, disclosing a salary from a law firm or consulting agency fails to give the public a complete picture of the financial interests that pay your salary. Disclosure of your client list will assure your constituents that you follow not only the letter, but the spirit of California’s conflict of interest law. Although a Los Angeles Times story indicated you had agreed to reveal your clients, that disclosure has not yet been made.

“It is unusual to take a position at a law firm just after being elected to a public office, particularly to enter a Government and Regulatory Law Practice Group that, according to the Glaser Weil website, works with ‘clients and government officials to help shape public policy to advance our clients’ interests.’”

The letter concluded, “Californians deserve a full picture of their elected officials’ financial interests and obligations. We therefore ask that you provide a list of your clients at Glaser Weil now, and that you update it in real time if those clients change.”

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Update 5:59 pm 1/12/15: MGM Grand states it is no longer a client of Glaser Weil.

Carmen Balber
Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog executive director Carmen Balber has been with the organization for nearly two decades. She spent four years directing the group’s Washington, D.C. office where she advocated for key health insurance market reforms that were ultimately enacted into law as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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