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Sunday, Jul 21, 2024
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GOVERNMENT–Coastal Commissioner Accused Of Not Reporting Interests

Port Commissioner David Malcolm labeled a 48-count complaint filed last week alleging his failure to disclose all his financial arrangements “a deliberate character assassination to slow me down on my taking on wealthy developers.”

The complaint, filed last week with both the District Attorney’s Office and the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission by Sacramento attorney Tony Miller, alleges Malcolm failed to list all his financial connections on required economic interest forms while serving on the San Diego Port Commission.

Malcolm asserted he has complied with the state law covering financial disclosure, and that he “over-disclosed” on the forms that must be filed by every public official.

“My financial forms are clear, and there is no missing information. Anything that deals with the Port of San Diego has been fully disclosed,” he said.

Malcolm did not name names when asked about the “wealthy developers” he was referring to, but he has locked horns with San Diego developer Doug Manchester over the development of a 1,200-room hotel at the Campbell Shipyard site.

Last year, Malcolm led the charge to demand Manchester sign a 10-year, $50 million guarantee to the port as part of the deal to build the hotel south of the San Diego Convention Center.

Manchester Denies Involvement

Pete Litrenta, senior vice president of Manchester Resorts, said his boss doesn’t know Miller and was not behind the complaint.

Miller said his only motivation for filing the compliant was to make sure Malcolm complies with the disclosure law.

“We’re asking the D.A.’s office and the FPPC to take a look and see if he is required to file (the missing information), and if so, asking him why he hasn’t done so,” Miller said.

Miller said the complaint was filed on behalf of San Diego resident Lawrence Gorfine. He called Gorfine a “straw person,” and that the filing was the result of a call from a tipster whom he would not identify.

Malcolm, who has represented Chula Vista on the seven-member Port Commission since 1995, said he considered the complaint a personal attack to discredit his stance against developers.

“This is my payback for standing up for the public right against wealthy developers,” he said, adding that Miller was likely hired by another party.

Affiliations And Investments

In the complaint, Miller outlines a series of Malcolm business affiliations and investments not included on his disclosure forms from 1995.

These include failure to disclose Malcolm’s executive and board positions on various companies, investments and income he received from those companies, and his participation in a number of real estate purchases and sales.

Miller’s complaint includes some financial data not on Malcolm’s economic disclosure forms. Among the alleged omissions are: income and interests in Dain Rauscher Inc., a Minnesota-based company; income he received from the sale of property in Chula Vista; income, investment and position with the Giant Group Ltd., a Los Angeles-based public company, and a subsidiary company, the Giant Marine Group Ltd.; his investment and sale of the investment in ATC Communications; and his position as director of Aegis Communications, based in Dallas.

Miller said he is not alleging Malcolm is guilty of any conflict-of-interest violations, but that he has not properly disclosed his financial interests. By not doing so, it raises questions whether there were potential conflicts, he said.

Malcolm said he didn’t include financial data regarding those companies that do not do business with the Port District.

Errors In Complaint Alleged

He charged Miller’s complaint contains errors. He specifically cited his disclosing the income he receives as president of Public Power Benefit, for which he checked the box on his disclosure form for income of “more than $10,000.”

Formed in 1999, the company invests in power plants, all of which are outside California, and does absolutely no business with the port, Malcolm said.

Malcolm also cited two counts dealing with the sale of 16 Rally’s restaurants in which he was an investor. He maintained that even though he wasn’t required to disclose the information, he did.

The forms show Malcolm checked “over $100,000” for both the amount of money invested, and the income he obtained from the sale in December 1999.

He said during his five years on the commission, he has abstained from voting several times, but only “for appearances.” The matters usually involved nonprofit entities of which he is a board member, he said.

Malcolm is no stranger to controversy. He served on the Chula Vista City Council from 1982 to 1992. He also served on the California Coastal Commission from 1984 to 1995.

During his tenure on the Chula Vista council, the FPPC investigated him on a number of alleged conflict of interest charges, but no wrongdoing was found or penalty assessed.

He has also been investigated by the county District Attorney’s Office on an arson case but no charges were ever filed.

Miller is a former acting secretary of state, a member of the FPPC, and the co-author of Proposition 208, which amended the state’s political reform law.

He said the reason for the complaint has nothing to do with politics, only to get Malcolm to comply with the law.

Representatives of both the District Attorney’s Office and the FPPC said they had received the complaint and that it is under review.

If there is any substance in the complaint, charges may be filed, said District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Gayle Falkenthal. The filing triggers a 120-day review period, after which if no charges are filed, a citizen can file a civil suit in Superior Court, Miller said.

If the FPPC finds Malcolm in violation of the code, he could be liable to a maximum fine of $2,000 per violation, Miller said.

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