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jl0910_Michael_Allen.jpgAssemblyman Michael Allen will remain on the Assembly Legislative Ethics Committee despite conceding a violation of the state's Political Reform Act and accepting a $3,000 fine from the state's political watchdog agency.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said last week that the first-year legislator's violation was unintentional, occurred prior to his election to the Assembly, and that he will not be replaced on the six-member ethics panel.

"He has accepted responsibility for his mistake, which is why he agreed with the (Fair Political Practices Commission) with respect to their decision," Pérez said in a written statement.

"He will continue to serve on the Ethics Committee knowing that this episode will help to remind every member to remain constantly vigilant against taking actions that could be perceived as a conflict of interest," Pérez said.

Allen and the FPPC negotiated a settlement in which the lawmaker conceded last week that he had "violated the Political Reform Act by failing to disqualify himself from two governmental decisions in which he had a financial interest."

The violations occurred in August 2009 when Allen, district director for former Sen. Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, voted as a Santa Rosa planning commissioner to adopt two resolutions supporting rezoning of Sonoma County Water Agency property on West College Avenue in Santa Rosa, according to the FPPC.

Allen, an attorney, had served as a paid consultant for the water agency to study the feasibility of converting buildings on its 7.4-acre West College Avenue property into housing, to conduct outreach efforts, and to work with the city of Santa Rosa in targeting the property for rezoning, the FPPC said.

Allen's votes on the planning commission "direct advanced the goal" of getting the West College Avenue property rezoned, the watchdog agency said.

FPPC documents say that Allen contends he was not aware of any conflict of interest because he signed the consulting contract before he became a planning commissioner; he publicly reported income earned from the water agency; and he relied too heavily on staff to inform him of what properties were involved in zoning or other land-use changes.

Allen was elected to the Assembly last November, more than a year after the violations.

David Miller, Allen's spokesman, said that Allen is "as ethical a person as you'd ever meet."

"He made an inadvertent mistake," Miller said. "That may make you absent minded, but it doesn't make you unethical."

PHOTO: Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa


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