A lobbyist’s secret gift to a councilwoman prompts El Monte to consider new ethics rules

The El Monte City Council has launched an effort to create an ethics commission that would sanction city officials who violate rules on accepting expensive gifts and other conflicts of interest.

The action last week followed a Times article that detailed how Councilwoman Victoria Martinez Muela accepted financial assistance from a lobbyist to help pay for her breast augmentation surgery. The lobbyist, Sigrid Lopez, said in a sworn declaration that she paid $1,100 to a Pasadena cosmetic surgeon in late 2016 to help cover the cost of the procedure.

Martinez Muela didn’t disclose the payment as a gift or loan on her financial interests disclosure form, which council members and other city officials are required to file under state law. At the time, state law limited gifts to public officials to $460 from any single source.

In May, former Mayor Andre Quintero submitted a complaint to the district attorney’s office alleging the payment may have violated the legal gift limit and wasn’t properly disclosed. Lopez’s declaration was attached to the complaint. Quintero, who was defeated in his reelection bid last year, had been aligned with a faction on the council that clashed with Martinez Muela and current Mayor Jessica Ancona over several issues, including whether to allow retail sales of cannabis in the city.

DAWG SAYS: IT TOOK A BOOB JOB TO GET THE CITY TO DECIDE THEY NEED ETHICS OVERSIGHT?


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