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With Perez Facing Criminal Charges, How Do Most Conflict Of Interest Cases Play Out In California?

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Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez was charged with two criminal misdemeanors last week over her 2017 vote against a ban on marijuana dispensaries. The DA's public integrity unit investigated the case and found that Perez's husband Fernando Jara had done business with marijuana industry groups before the vote, creating what they claim is a conflict of interest. She denies the charges and has pled not guilty.

To learn more about how conflict of interest cases usually play out in California, we spoke with one of the state's leading experts on government ethics, Jessica A. Levinson, a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and editor of the PoLawTics blog. She says the Perez case is unusual, and most often, allegations are first investigated by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission before being referred to a district attorney. She joined us on Valley Edition to talk more about the state's system of accountability for elected officials.

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.