Investigation into candidate ongoing

An investigation into a Huntington Beach city official who voted on a campaign donor's project remains ongoing after more than a year.

The Fair Political Practices Commission opened an investigation into Planning Commissioner Barbara Delgleize in March 2011 after a complaint was filed against her for accepting $520 from Irvine-based Sares-Regis Group for her unsuccessful 2010 City Council bid, then voting in favor of the company's apartment units and commercial project when it came before the commission.

The investigation began after fellow Planning Commissioner Mark Bixby filed the complaint with the FPPC in February 2011. Bixby was informed by the FPPC in March 2011 that an investigation was launched.

FPPC spokeswoman Tara Stock would not comment on the investigation, other than to say that there are a number of factors that can elongate it, including complexity of the case, cooperation of the parties involved, the number of potential witnesses to interview and possible subpoenas.

She would not say whether any of those factors are affecting Delgleize's investigation.

Delgleize was required by state law to recuse herself for a year from voting on projects brought before the city from anyone who contributed more than $250 to her campaign, and to disclose before voting whether she had received a contribution from the company. She did neither.

The commissioner, who is running again for City Council this year, acknowledged she made a mistake by not disclosing on the night of the vote that she had received a contribution from Sares-Regis.

She said her campaign manager gave back contributions exceeding $250 to anyone who did business with the city, and she thought the same was done for Sares-Regis, but a mistake was made, and the money was not returned.

Delgleize was contacted by the FPPC about the incident and said a year ago she would return the money if asked. She declined to comment for this story.

Bixby said he knows it was an innocent mistake on Delgleize's part, but it's hard to tell why the investigation has taken this long.

"I would think that if they felt it was something trivial and not worth pursuing, it would be closed promptly, but here we are one year later and it's still open," he said. "It's hard to tell what to make of it."

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