12:46 AM PST on Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Special Section: San Bernardino Co. Probe

An environmental group is raising questions about a California Fish and Game commissioner’s ties to a San Bernardino County corruption investigation.

The Los Angeles-based Endangered Habitats League filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission in October, alleging that Dan Richards failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest on state forms. The commission dismissed the complaint.

Richards is co-managing partner of the Rancho Cucamonga-based Colonies Partners, but did not disclose that interest and his role as managing partner for another development firm, BRGW Lakes, on state economic interest forms, according to the group.

The group described it as a “blatant attempt by California Fish & Game Commissioner Daniel Richards to hide from view his interests in two major land development firms, one of which has been at the center of a major criminal investigation for several years.”

The group also notes in its complaint that Richards appears to be one of five unindicted co-conspirators listed in a criminal complaint alleging that a $102 million settlement the county paid Colonies in November 2006 was the result of a criminal conspiracy.

Richards declined to comment.

In a Nov. 5 letter, Fair Political Practices Commission Executive Director Roman Porter told the group “the information you provided is insufficient to establish a violation of the (California Political Reform) Act.”

Richards’ involvement with Colonies and BRGW “are not the type of investments that are required to be disclosed under Mr. Richards’ disclosure category” the letter states.

The other allegations involving the settlement are outside the FPPC’s jurisdiction, Porter said.

Michael Fitts, an attorney with the Endangered Habitats League, said the group remains concerned about Richards’ role.

“His comments as well as his voting record seem to indicate his commitment to protect resources the Fish and Game Commission is mandated to protect is not very strong,” he said.

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