California’s campaign finance watchdog will investigate whether a top aide to Gov. Jerry Brown accurately disclosed the status of her stock holdings in a major utility.
Earlier this month, the group Consumer Watchdog alleged in a complaint that Brown executive secretary Nancy McFadden had violated conflict-of-interest rules for not recusing herself from official decisions that would have affected her Pacific Gas and Electric stock holdings. McFadden worked for Pacific Gas and Electric before joining the Brown administration.
A Thursday letter from the California Fair Federal Practices Commission to Consumer Watchdog said there was “insufficient evidence” of conflict of interest to warrant an investigation. But the watchdog said it would look into “the apparent failure of Ms. McFadden to disclose required information about the status of her stock ownership in Pacific Gas and Electric.”
The governor’s office called Consumer Watchdog’s allegations “totally baseless.”
“It’s not surprising that the FPPC found these conflict of interest allegations totally baseless and will not pursue an investigation,” Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in a statement Thursday. “We have already acknowledged inadvertent, filing errors and amended Form 700s have already been re-filed with the FPPC to clear this up.”
The complaint from Consumer Watchdog argued that McFadden had a conflict because she was involved in decisions affecting the utility on Brown’s behalf. It accused McFadden of “inaccuracies and omissions” in disclosing when she sold her PG&E stock. After joining the administration in 2011, McFadden initially reported owning stock in PG&E. By 2014, she no longer reported owning that stock.
Editor’s note: This post was updated at 6:30 p.m. March 24 to include the statement from the governor’s office.