28 Mar 2012

Corruption at the top

BS sent me this story, which surely rivals these corruption stories (on California's water resource control board, Cadiz buying influence in Sacramento and Mayor Sanders of San Diego as a lobbyist for Poseidon).

Check this out:
Merle Moshiri... filed a complaint... against John Foley, the board chairman of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California [MWDSC].

The complaint alleges that Foley failed to report upward of $600,000 in income that his wife, Mary J. Foley, received from consulting she did for both Poseidon Resources and the desalination efforts headed by the Municipal Water District of Orange County [MWDOC]. Mary J. Foley is the principal of Foley Consulting, Inc.
Gee, and I wonder what her qualifications were? Maybe only her last name, since the Mary J. Foley who runs Foley Consulting Inc. says:
Our clients are predominantly religious, educational and social service organizations located in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Joliet. FCI recognizes that each client we assist is utterly unique in terms of personality, personnel, philosophy and vision, and benefits most from a tailored mix of services that reflect the distinctive nature of the organization. This differentiation – from solicitation techniques and campaign language to training protocols and stewardship practices – enables our clients to experience greater levels of success and comfort.
Seems she's a little out of area and off topic, doing desalination in California.

What's Foley's defense? A shower of bullshit:
Foley said his and his wife's finances are kept separately and he was under the impression that he did not have to report her income.

"It was our understanding that because our incomes have always been kept separate, her income was not a reportable financial interest..."

"And, it was our understanding that because Mary Jane never worked directly on any matter for Metropolitan, nothing further needed to be done. I now realize that it would have been better to have abstained on votes pertaining to contracts between Metropolitan and firms that Mary Jane consults with, and I will do so in the future."
This is no defense, since MWDOC is a member agency of MWDSC and MWDSC was offering -- until the lawsuit with San Diego County Water Authority -- a subsidy of $250/acre-foot to Poseidon.

Bottom Line: Mr. Foley has maintained a conflict of interest between his personal finances and making policies that affect 20 million Southern Californians. He should resign from MWDSC's board and return the $600,000 in fees bribes his wife received "separately" from him [read more about the responses here]. MWDSC should re-consider all decisions made under Foley's watch that impacted MWDOC and Poseidon, with public access to the discussion and votes. Yes, that's a lot of work, but corruption needs a strong response.
Addendum: I cannot find any information on Foley Consulting Inc. (California branch :), but several people have emailed (also see comments) to tell me that she may be more qualified as a consultant than anyone else in California. That expertise does not excuse the conflict of interest.