William Burke, a mayoral nominee to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board, has withdrawn after state and city attorneys raised concerns that he had a potential conflict of interest.
Burke, president of L.A. Marathon Inc., serves on the California Coastal Commission and the South Coast Air Quality Management District board, which has fined the DWP in the past for air pollution violations and issues permits to the city agency.
“As you know, I serve on a number of boards, which has caused the city attorney some concern,” Burke wrote to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, calling the nomination an honor. “I think it would be in the best interest of the city for me not to challenge his position.”
A spokesman for the mayor said the state attorney general’s office said members of the air quality board who took appointments on other, related government agencies could trigger a state law on “incompatibility of offices.”
The law prohibits an official from serving on two government panels when there is a conflict of interest because one regulates the other or depends on funding from the other.
The media raised the issue when Villaraigosa announced Burke’s appointment last month, but the mayor said at that time that his attorneys thought there was no conflict of interest.
Jonathan Diamond, a spokesman for City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, said there had been communications between his office and the mayor’s, but he declined to discuss whether there was a legal opinion, citing attorneyclient privilege.
Burke is the husband of county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, a major political ally of Villaraigosa.
In a letter to Burke, the mayor accepted his decision to withdraw from the appointment.
“The legal issue raised about your contemporaneous service on the South Coast Air Quality Management District board is a difficult one, and I fully understand your decision not to take the chance that the offices would be held incompatible,” Villaraigosa said.