RIVERSIDE (CBS) — An Inland Empire lawmaker’s bill to remove elected officials from boards or commissions when they’re facing criminal charges was signed Friday by Governor Jerry Brown.
Assemblyman Paul Cook introduced AB 309 in January in response to corruption cases in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Under the measure, any elected official will be automatically disqualified from serving on a board or commission if he or she is indicted for any type of crime.
If the office-holder was appointed to the board or commission before the charges were filed, the official will be required to vacate the seat.
By remaining on a commission while under indictment, officials put federal funds at risk because U.S. agencies generally will not disburse grants that will be controlled by accused felons, according to the assemblyman.
“I fought for this for the last two years, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s law,” Cook said. “It’s going to protect our communities so that they can continue to receive federal funding for big projects. We can’t afford
to lose federal funds and all the jobs that go with these projects.
“This bill is a solid first step in fighting corruption in California and the Inland Empire, but there’s much more to be done,” he added. “I’m going to continue this fight to clean up government.”
Cook pointed to this year’s indictments handed down against three former San Bernardino County officials in a bribery scheme centering on a real estate development as one of the many examples of why AB 309 is needed.
He introduced a similar bill last year, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said removing elected or appointed office holders should be “handled on the local level.”
AB 309 takes effect on Jan. 1.