FPPC responds to conflict of interest allegation

The Fair Political Practices Commission responded to an allegation that Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson and her previous employer gained financially by her vote on the Village Entrance project.

Realtor Audrey Prosser and Pearson were notified May 10 that it could not be reasonably foreseen that Pearson's decision in support of a proposed project at the Village Entrance would have a material effect on her economic interest as set forth in the Fair Political Practices Act.

An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported the FPPC rejected the allegation.

Pearson's vote at the March 26 special meeting on a Village Entrance proposal was challenged by Prosser, who alleged that it would benefit the Laguna Playhouse, where Pearson was employed through April 30.

The commission did not preclude Prosser from resubmitting her complaint against Pearson if she could provide additional evidence to support her allegation.

Telephone calls made last week to Prosser were not returned as of Wednesday.

Prosser wrote in her sworn complaint that Pearson was using her position to influence a council decision about a matter in which she had a financial interest because of the material financial effect on the Playhouse of a proposed parking structure at the Village Entrance.

A material financial effect would be an increase or decrease of the Playhouse's gross annual receipts in a fiscal year of $100,000 or more, according to an April 12 memo from City Attorney Philip Kohn to the City Council.

Pearson, who resigned from the Playhouse to take a job with the Pacific Chorale beginning May 1, had contacted the fair practices committee through the city to clear her participation in the Village Entrance project process when she took the job with the Playhouse. She was advised her participation was permitted.

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