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.


Fixed Carbon said...

Mary is highly qualified. She is John's wife, probably slept with him at one time, and has his ear. They also probably have lots of common property: bank accounts, stock, real estate. Who says that Mary isn't highly qualified? She might be able to go to work for Westlands Water District when she retires, too.

Anonymous said...

Great sleuthing. The question now is how we arouse the sleeping mainstream media to cover this story. The LA Times coverage of California water issues is definitely lack.

Emily Green said...

Thanks for posting. This story needs the mainstream media to back up terrific reporting by the Surf City News, Voice of OC and now the Huntington Beach Independent. For want of it, ordinary citizens have to keep banging on about it. What's remarkable about the head of Met's household economy directly benefiting from income from a desal lobbyist is how flagrant the abuse is, how arrogant and how confident these guys are that they are beyond the law.

Anonymous said...

I cannot attest to the honesty or not of John Foley in his role at MWD of the Universe. However, I think that the “gotcha” thrust of your blog on his wife missed a key point that really does take some of the bite out of your attack. Mary Jane Foley was for many years during the Wilson Administration in California, a member of the State Water Resources Control Board. She probably has more, or at least equivalent water knowledge as does her husband John. In fact, it is my understanding that they met later in their lives over their water careers and then got married. Thus, even though your point about disclosure is correct, and your quote from Foley Consulting shows priceless obfuscation on their part, Mary J. Foley is not just getting these consulting jobs because of her name; she’s a no-shit, doggone expert!

Anonymous said...

David I urge you to check your facts before publishing something like this. When the FPPC investigation is complete, you will find out the truth is quite different. You even have the wrong Mary Jane Foley. If it is real corruption, go for it, but be sure you are right .Peoples reputations are at stake.

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