Coastal commissioners sued for $22M in ex-parte lawsuit

Coastal Commissioners before casting a vote (Credit: MassisPost)
Coastal Commissioners before casting a vote (Credit: MassisPost)

A nonprofit organization filed a civil lawsuit earlier this month against five California Coastal Commissioners for alleged violations in disclosing closed-door meetings regarding developments.

The complaint, served by a nonprofit organization called Spotlight on Coastal Corruption, claims Commissioners Erik Howell, Martha McClure, Wendy Mitchell, Mark Vargas and Steve Kinsey failed to reveal or inadequately disclosed ex-parte communications a total of 590 times in the past two years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The commissioners face up to $22 million in fines if the courts confirm their wrongdoing.

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There are at least a handful of lawsuits alleging that the 12-member commission has persistently failed to disclose their private meetings with development interests, but Spotlight’s suit is the only one that seeks fines against individual commissioners.

Just last month, the state bill to ban ex-parte communication failed to pass in Senate.

“The Coastal Commission has gotten off track,” Spotlight president Kathryn Burton told the Times. “It needs to come back into compliance with the law and increase transparency as well as public accountability. Some commissioners are being very arrogant about the law.” [LAT]Cathaleen Chen