Attorney files complaint with Fair Political Practices Commission against member of South Lake Tahoe City Council
June 2, 2017
Though the U.S. 50/South Shore Community Revitalization Project is moving forward after the recent release of its draft environmental document, a group of residents is still fighting back.
Most recently, local lawyer Bruce Grego filed an appeal of the judge's January ruling that deemed Measure T "unconstitutional," "flawed" and "unenforceable." The measure passed in November after a petition with 1,459 signatures put the initiative on the ballot in an effort to prohibit the city of South Lake Tahoe from "approving" or "supporting" the project and put all city decisions on the project to a residents' vote.
Back in July 2016, now-councilmember Jason Collin filed a lawsuit challenging Measure T, claiming the initiative was "flawed" and an unlawful interference of the city of South Lake Tahoe's authority — which El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Robert Wagoner ultimately agreed with.
Grego's notice of appeal, which fellow South Lake Tahoe resident Laurel Ames is also a part of, was filed on March 13. The grounds for his case have not yet been filed.
Additionally, Grego has now filed a complaint through the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against Collin. FPPC regulates and enforces campaign finance reporting, lobbying activity and conflicts of interest for public officials.
In the sworn complaint form received by the FPPC on May 31, Grego alleges that Collin used the lawsuit as "part of his election strategy."
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"More importantly," reads the complaint, "the funds used to support this instant litigation on Mr. Collin's behalf have not been disclosed as a part of either Mr. Collin's pre-election disclosures or disclosures required by FPPC Form 700 upon taking office."
Last October at the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals (TRYP) City Council candidate forum, Collin was asked who funded his lawsuit.
"I had a consortium of people — of business owners, property owners, community concerned citizens. A lot of them that would be affected by the Loop Road," said Collin. "I had a lot of support behind me for the lawsuit, but it's just like a political campaign. You get $99 checks and people support you, but they don't want to put a sign up in their business because they are afraid of the ramifications."
Neither Collin nor his attorney wanted to comment on the appeal or FPPC complaint.
Grego told the Tribune that as an elected official, Collin "has an affirmative duty to disclose all gifts if someone is supporting his litigation efforts." However, he also noted that it is up to the FPPC to decide whether or not Collin "has failed to comply."
Local real estate investor John Cefalu, former city councilmember JoAnn Conner and South Tahoe Chamber executive director Tamara Wallace were named as potential witnesses in the complaint.
But just because the complaint was filed does not mean an investigation will be conducted by the FPPC.
"When FPPC Enforcement receives a complaint, it takes it under review," said Jay Wierenga, FPPC communication director, in an email. "It must decide if there's enough information and evidence included in it to indicate a potential violation of the Act (Political Reform Act, our jurisdiction)."
According to Wierenga, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to decided if an investigation is merited. The investigation itself can take anywhere from six months to a year.
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