Coastal Commissioners Hit With Fines, California Taxpayers on Hook

Five current and former California Coastal Commission commissioners were found guilty in the spring of breaking rules relating to open meeting laws, and now California taxpayers will have to pay the fines levied against the commissioners.

The commissioners were found guilty of breaking rules that prevent private meetings from occurring unless ample time is given for reporting prior to voting on any projects. The fines totaled roughly $1 million.

Former Commissioners Steven Kinsey, Wendy Mitchell and Martha McClure were fined $30,300, $7,100 and $2,600, respectively. Current commissioners Mark Vargas and Erik Howell were fined $13,600 and $3,500. In addition, the judge made the commissioners liable for $959,000 in attorney fees and court costs.

At one of the private meetings, the commissioners voted to indemnify themselves against liability for payment if they lost.

“The law entitles the commissioners to representation by the State absent malice, fraud or corruption,” the commission said in a statement. “This Commission earlier agreed to indemnify the defendants to the full extent provided by law.” (Source: Los Angeles Times, September 13.)

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