The only Ventura County representative on the California Transportation Commission said Wednesday that she will not be reappointed by Gov. Pete Wilson because of controversy over a political contribution she made four years ago.
Elaine Freeman of Simi Valley, appointed to the commission in August by former Gov. George Deukmejian, said she was contacted by Wilson’s appointment secretary, Terry Flanigan, last weekend and told that the governor had decided not to reappoint her.
Although Freeman already had attended six commission meetings, her appointment had not been confirmed by the Senate Rules Committee. The confirmation was delayed as a courtesy to the new governor to allow him to decide if he wanted Freeman or someone else to fill the position, officials in the governor’s office said.
The nine-member Transportation Commission meets about a dozen times a year to decide how much money will be allocated for state highway, railroad and harbor improvement projects.
Freeman, who operates a Thousand Oaks consulting firm that specializes in helping developers apply for governmental contracts, said Flanigan told her that Wilson’s decision stemmed from a controversy over an incident that occurred in 1987 when Freeman was working for Griffin Homes. Flanigan could not be reached for comment.
At the time, Freeman was named by the state Fair Political Practices Commission as one of five Griffin Homes employees who had been illegally reimbursed by the firm for contributions made to political candidates. Freeman had made a $99 contribution to the campaign of Moorpark City Councilman Bernardo Perez.
Although Freeman and the other four employees were not charged with any wrongdoing, Griffin Homes was fined $47,000 by the commission. State law prohibits companies from reimbursing employees for campaign contributions made on the company’s behalf.
Freeman said she understands Wilson’s desire to appoint someone of his choosing to the Transportation Commission. But she said she is upset that questions have emerged about her ethics.
Freeman said she also is disturbed that the Senate Rules Committee is looking into allegations that she helped a Simi Valley construction firm receive a $33-million contract to build the connector link for the Simi Valley and Moorpark freeways. She said she had nothing to do with C.A. Rasmussen Inc. winning the contract.
Earlier this month, Caltrans decided on the firm to build the 2.2-mile connector. The firm’s bid was $10 million less than what Caltrans originally had estimated that the project would cost. Rasmussen officials said the firm was able to place such a low bid because it is local.
“I couldn’t have any influence at all on the bidding process,” she said. “The commission only votes on allocation of funds for roadways. They make no determination of who gets the bid.”
Besides, Freeman said, she abstained from voting when the Transportation Commission in September approved spending as much as $43 million for the freeway connector.
Assemblywoman Cathie Wright, (R-Simi Valley), who nominated Freeman for the commission, said she is outraged that Freeman’s ethics are being questioned.
“Not only is she being tarred and feathered, but this is going to reflect on anything else she wants to do,” Wright said.