A Scott Peotter recall proponent has filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission in hopes that the state agency will look into the Newport Beach city councilman’s financial filings.
Newport Beach activist Susan Skinner said Peotter’s financial forms create more questions than answers.
In a wide-ranging complaint dated June 1, Skinner raises issues about how properly Peotter disclosed his economic interests during his time as a council member, where he has served since 2014, or as a Newport Beach planning commissioner prior to that.
She said Wednesday that her chief concern is over income Peotter reported through Capitol Ministries, an organization that spreads gospel to local, state and federal government leaders.
She also questioned why he reported no income from 2006 to 2010, the years he served on the Planning Commission.
As a member of regional governmental boards that include the county Sanitation and Vector Control districts and the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency, Peotter is required to file a series of forms showing his business interests within Orange County.
In a 2016 form, he reported income from Capitol Ministries to his architectural and development firm, Aslan Companies, in the range of $10,000 to $100,000.
Skinner wrote in her complaint that it was unlikely that Peotter provided architectural services to the Washington, D.C.-based group.
Instead, she said she believed Peotter was acting as a lay “ministry leader” for the organization.
To serve as a ministry leader, he would have to solicit tax-deductible donations to Capitol Ministries, which the organization would pass back to him to support his spiritual work.
And if that’s the case, she argued, the donors and their gift amounts are not disclosed.
“We need to know the money trail, who’s influencing Mr. Peotter,” she said.
But Peotter said that’s not the case. He said the income was direct payment from Capitol Ministries for his work to expand its mission to local governments, not money he raised to support his own ministry.
Peotter said if he reported no income for a time it was because he didn’t have any — that was during the recession, and “real estate is a fickle business.”
He said that he would have been living off savings.
Peotter said he stands by everything on his forms and has no problem answering any questions by the Fair Political Practices Commission.
“I don’t have anything to hide,” he said. “That’s why we file these things publicly.”
An FPPC spokesman said Wednesday that the agency had received the complaint, but couldn’t say anything further, as is standard practice on pending complaints.
In general, complaints are reviewed to determine if they have merit – if there is enough information or evidence to suggest a violation of the state Political Reform Act – then the office begins an investigation. This initial review takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.