By John Earl
Surf City Voice
John V. Foley, chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, failed to report over $248,000 of income from his wife, Mary Jane Foley, back to 2004, records obtained by the Surf City Voice under the Public Records Act show.
The California Fair Political Practices Act requires government officials, including employees and consultants, to publicly disclose their relevant economic interests, often including spousal income, within 30 days of assuming office and annually thereafter.
The officials make their disclosures on a Statement of Economic Interests or “700” form with their respective agencies, after which the information goes to the county and state. The report helps to highlight potential conflicts of interest they may have with issues that come before a government decision making body.
Under the Act, water board directors are required during meetings to disclose any potential conflicts they have with agenda items and to recuse themselves from the decision making process by leaving the room (for consent calendar items they must recuse but can stay in the room).
California Government Code 1090 is even stricter than the ACT.
Recognizing the indirect as well as direct influence that public officials have on decision making, 1090 prohibits any financial conflict of interest by those officials over contracts, even if the official isn’t voting; those officials, it says, “shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members.”
Since 2001, public records obtained by the Voice indicate, Foley’s wife has run her own business, MJF Consulting, Inc., while being paid directly or indirectly for consulting work by water agencies throughout southern California, including the MET and the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC).
Foley, who has served on the MET since 1989, claimed that he was unaware of any obligation to report his wife’s income.
“I never felt it was required. You know, I don’t have no problem with it,” he told the Voice after a MWDOC meeting last September.
The Voice became aware of some of Foley’s missing financial disclosures after examining his 700 forms going back to 2006. But when questioned, Foley said that he had never reported his wife’s income.
But on October 25, a month after he was questioned by the Voice, Foley filed amended financial disclosures back to 2004 that include most – but not all – consulting income from his wife for each year, records show.