As more statements from those involved appear in local newspapers, and other information is gathered related to the travel activity of County Supervisor Paul Biane and incoming County Administrative Officer Greg Devereaux, it is becoming very apparent that both men are on opposite sides of the coin.
In 2008, both men accompanied local businessmen to West Viriginia for a football and golf outing.
However, their stories in local newspapers diverge from here out.
Devereaux appears to have made an honest mistake in his reimbursement for the travel.
Devereaux was apparently unaware that the rule for reimbursement of private charter travel had been changed some 45 days before the trip.
The old rule, commonly referred to as the “Southwest Airlines” rule mandated the reimbursement for any private charter travel must be done so at the lowest available common carrier flight to the same destination available to the public. Devereaux complied.
However, in July 2008 the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) voted to change the rule to require reimbursement of actual cost of the charter apportioned evenly among each passenger, excluding the flight crew. The rule change became effective on August 15, 2008.
Any reimbursement must be accomplished within 30 days. If complied with, the trip is not reportable on the FPPC Form 700 Statement of Economic Interest.
So under the new rule Devereaux’s reimbursement was insufficient, but likely to be construed as a mistake. Devereaux also provided a gift of equal or greater consideration to offset other trip related expenses.
Biane on the other hand would like everyone to believe that he too made an honest mistake. Not so fast!
In order for an officeholder to pay for travel from their campaign funds, the travel in question must have a governmental or political nexus, and be of such a nature that travel outside California was required. Everyone on the trip was from SoCal. So the out of state requirement isn’t there.
Another problem. Biane says the trip had a political and governmental purpose thus paying out of the campaign funds is acceptable. Once again, not so fast.
Biane says he went on the trip to socialize with donors and to discuss with Devereaux his interest, if any, in the County Administrative Officer (CAO) position, even though Biane had no intention of releasing current CAO Mark Uffer.
Devereaux says the outing was a personal trip. Biane says it was political/governmental.
The more glaring problem in the situation. There is no mention of any reimbursement for any expense related to the trip on Biane’s FPPC Form 460 Campaign Finance Disclosure for the period covering the trip, filed on 10/06/2008. An amended campaign finance disclosure filed on 10/23/2008 makes no mention of the trip either.
In other words no reimbursement was ever made.
On March 11, 2009, Biane filed an amended campaign finance disclosure listing reimbursements from campaign funds related to the trip. Just 8 days before the Chief of Staff to Supervisor Neil Derry was arrested on gift reporting issues.
In late February/early March 2009, Board of Supervisors staff had become aware the DA had seized flight records of charters out of Ontario.
In other words Biane never reimbursed until March 2009, after he became aware that the District Attorney may have known that he failed to disclose.
Biane’s FPPC Form 700 Statement of Economic Interest for 2008 makes no mention of the trip.
Biane’s campaign treasurer Betty Presley acts as treasurer for many politicos. Presley has an impeccable reputation and follows the law to the letter.
Make no mistake. The reports prepared by Presley were accurate based upon information provided her by Biane.
If the trip had no governmental/political nexus, or no other consideration of equal or greater value was provided the businessmen by Biane, then reimbursement must be from personal funds.
All disclosure forms were signed under penalty of perjury.
Some explanations are going to be needed here. Like why no criminal charges? Was there no perjury? Was there no filing of false documents? Why would Ramos let Biane off the hook?
Why has Derry’s former Chief of Staff Jim Erwin been singled out by District Attorney Ramos?