Corona City Councilwoman Karen Spiegel has agreed to pay a $500 fine issued by a state commission for failing to properly disclose her economic interest in her husband’s employer, the Corona Chamber of Commerce.
The Fair Political Practices Commission issued the fine last month after reviewing a complaint, explained FPPC Communications Director Jay Wierenga. He added the violations were deemed unintentional with no apparent conflict of interest.
The non-criminal, administrative case was handled through a streamlined process which requires the accused to be innocent of purposeful deceit or omission.
“Most of the time they just didn’t understand their responsibility well enough or ask for help when they probably should have, but there was nothing malicious intended by it,” Wierenga said.
Spiegel failed to report her spouse’s source of income on Annual Statements of Economic Interest from 2010-2015. She said she’s been filing the same forms throughout her 13-year City Council career.
“As many times as I filed it, I assumed it was correct,” Spiegel said. “Since no one said anything, the initial thought was that I was doing it the right way.
“Of course, when it was pointed out that it was wrong, I made a correction.”
This was Spiegel’s first FPPC violation, records show.
Another city official brought the error to Spiegel’s attention last month, after a resident circulated a form publicizing the omission. The councilwoman said she’d already filed an amendment by the time the Commission’s letter arrived in September.
A 30-year Chamber member, Spiegel said she’s never hidden that fact that her husband, Bobby Spiegel, is president of the organization.
“Some of these things can be very complicated,” Wierenga said. “We understand that someone may get confused or not understand.”
Although the fine has been paid, the decision will still need to be finalized during a commission vote on Oct. 15.