Second District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce is now under investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for potential violations of the Political Reform Act, according to the commission’s spokesperson. As previously reported, an inquiry by the Long Beach city attorney’s office found that Pearce’s employment by a top executive with Urban Commons, the leaseholder of the Queen Mary, through his personal business ventures may have put her in violation of the act.
The Political Reform Act was passed by ballot measure in California in 1974 during the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. According to the FPPC, among many other initiatives aimed at political transparency and accountability, the act put in place strict conflict of interest laws. In part, this was achieved by requiring politicians and state agency officials to disclose personal finances.
Pearce did not report her income from her 2018 business dealings with Dan Zaharoni, of Urban Commons, on her Form 700, a document that elected and public officials are required to submit to ensure their decisions are made in the interest of the public and not their personal financial gain. In total, Pearce has earned just over $41,000 over the past year and a half through her work for Zaharoni, who owns multiple businesses in addition to serving as chief development officer of Urban Commons. She also proposed and voted on a council agenda item related to the Queen Mary during this time period, which, per a report by the city attorney’s office, may have been a violation of the Political Reform Act.
In a letter issued to local media due to multiple requests for comment, Long Beach City Prosecutor Douglas Haubert said on September 27 that any criminal charges filed for violation of the Political Reform Act would be up to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s (LADA) office, rather than his own. He noted that he conferred with the D.A.’s office on the matter.
A spokesperson from the D.A.’s office said they had received a complaint about Pearce and were reviewing it.
“I have every reason to believe the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office will handle this matter in a thorough, competent, and fair manner,” Haubert stated. “The LADA’s Public Integrity Division, staffed with ten specially-trained prosecutors and twelve full-time investigators, has great experience investigating and pursuing public corruption and conflict of interest cases.”
Haubert added that nothing in his statement “should be construed as concluding that Ms. Pearce has violated the law or that any decision has been made by the LADA’s office to pursue criminal charges.”
Additionally, Haubert noted that he has requested that the D.A. take up any related ancillary charges, which “may include operating a business without a business permit.” Consultants, such as Pearce was while performing work for Zaharoni, are required to hold business permits in Long Beach.
Pearce declined to comment for this story.