The state Fair Political Practices Commission on Thursday cleared former Sheriff John Duffy of not publicly disclosing income he earned while working as a private consultant for two companies.
In one instance, Duffy was not required to file a disclosure because the money he was paid came from a federal agency. In the second, Duffy filed the disclosure late, a violation that was “relatively minor in nature,” the FPPC said in closing Duffy’s file.
Duffy was dogged by allegations late in 1989 that he did not report the outside income from either a Sacramento or a Washington consulting firm on state economic disclosure forms.
Between 1983 and 1988, Duffy received about $6,000 from Koba Associates in Washington to work on seven consulting projects for the National Institute of Justice, the FPPC said. Koba officials said Duffy had been paid $150 a day for his work, which consisted of reviewing grant proposals.
The FPPC ruled that Duffy was actually working for the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. The FPPC quoted the institute’s director, Jim Stewart, as saying that Koba Associates did not employ Duffy, and that the company merely performed clerical duties for the National Institute of Justice.
State law says that income received from a state, local or federal government agency need not be reported. Since the National Institute of Justice was funded entirely through federal grants, Duffy was not required to report it on disclosure forms, the FPPC said.
Duffy, who left office Monday after 20 years as Sheriff, used the same argument at the time the allegations surfaced.
Reached at his home Thursday, Duffy said he knew he was right all along.
“This is just exactly what I’ve been saying from day one,” he said. “I told you folks in the media over and over. I’m pleased they finally got around to exonerating me after I left office.”
In the second case, Duffy worked for Ralph Andersen & Associates in Sacramento, which was studying how to restructure management in the Arlington, Tex., Police Department.
During 1988, the same year Duffy worked for the consulting firm and earned $1,137 from them, the city of San Diego had a contract with Andersen & Associates to find a city planning director.
According to the county conflict-of-interest code, Duffy should have noted the earnings on his disclosure forms because the firm was doing business within the county’s jurisdiction, and therefore, was “county-related.”
The FPPC said the Duffy’s failure to disclose the income “is relatively minor in nature” and that Duffy probably did not file in 1988 because Andersen & Associates did not send the sheriff an income tax statement that year. The firm did send a combined record of income in 1989, and Duffy made the disclosure later that year.
“Because the late failure to disclose is relatively minor in nature, and may have occurred, in part, because of the error on the tax statement . . . the file is closed,” FPPC legal counsel Kaye Krumenacker said.
Duffy said he received about $4,000 from Andersen & Associates and agreed with the FPPC that his failure to disclose was an oversight.
“Like I said, if it’s reported in one year or another year, what in the hell is the difference?” he said Thursday. “The only time I know when to file is when they send me a 1099 form. When it came in, I reported it. What more can you do?”
In 1989, the FPPC sent Duffy a warning letter about his failure to properly disclose $36,000 in loans he received to pay off opponents’ attorneys fees after losing a lawsuit to the ACLU. Duffy said he forgot about the loan and filed an amended Statement of Economic Interest.
According to the state’s Political Reform Act and the San Diego County Conflict of Interest Code for the Sheriff’s Department, Duffy had to disclose all income of $250 or more from any “county-related source.”