November 12th, 2010, 10:50 am · posted by Andrew Galvin
Curt Pringle, the soon-to-be-former mayor of Anaheim who is also chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority, says he thinks an investigation into foreign trips taken by five rail authority officials — including Pringle — can be cleared up once the authority files appropriate disclosures.
“Hopefully the authority will rectify the situation by filing the necessary forms in as quick a manner as possible,” Pringle said in an interview with OC Watchdog on Friday.
The investigation by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, disclosed this week, was triggered by a Los Angeles Times report that said current and former rail authority officials “took overseas trips paid for by foreign governments jockeying to help their homeland firms secure state contracts.”
Roman Porter, executive director of the FPPC, told the Times on Wednesday that, based on the paper’s reporting, his agency has “undertaken a proactive investigation.”
Five officials took European trips last year that were paid for by foreign governments hoping to land contracts for companies in their countries, according to the Times. Some of the trips were worth thousands of dollars, the Times says.
Because the travel was donated to the rail authority, and not to the individual officials, the authority’s legal staff advised that the trips didn’t need to be disclosed by the board members or staff, Pringle said.
Pringle said he nevertheless did disclose the travel because, unlike the others, he is an elected official as mayor of Anaheim. Pringle is termed out as mayor and leaves office Dec. 7.
“I always did report any gifts I got in terms of travel,” he said.
However, “there was also a requirement for the authority to submit a form saying that it received a gift and who the gift went to and the elements of the trip,” Pringle said. “Now I understand that may not have been done.”
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