Rail authority officials investigated over trips

Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate trips that were paid for by foreign governments

The state agency charged with ethics enforcement has launched an investigation into whether California High-Speed Rail Authority board members have failed to properly document their trips abroad -- trips that were paid for by foreign governments.

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has informed board Chair Curt Pringle, former Executive Director Mehdi Morshed and board members Quentin Kopp and Lynn Schenk that they are now subjects of the probe. The investigation was launched after the Los Angeles Times revealed that board members took trips to Europe without properly disclosing these trips on their annual reports on gifts.

The commission sent letters to the board members and to Morshed on Oct. 29 saying that it has "initiated an investigation that as a member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, you violated the Political Reform Act's limitation on the receipt of gifts provisions."

"At this time, we have not made any determination about the allegation(s)," the letter states. "We are simply providing you with this information as a courtesy and may be contacting you again to discuss this matter."

Roelof van Ark, who was hired as the authority's CEO in May, said in a statement after the Los Angeles Times story came out that he has requested a system-wide review of the authority's policies and procedures.

"In the course of that review, some lapses in our record-keeping were discovered," van Ark said. "They have since been corrected."

He also said the authority has "already provided all required documentation for the most recent international trip undertaken by Authority personnel."

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Like this comment
Posted by cynic
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

there they go again.

Like this comment
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Also reflecting on board members, it should be noted that Authority board members, Pringle and Katz, are under fire for also having conflicting conflicting positions on other agencies boards.

This was first brought up in early spring, and mentioned specifically by Senator Simitian in the T&H committee meeting on Nov 4th. Neither Katz nor Pringle attended the Authority's Nov 4th meeting. As so far as I know, no explanation for their absence was given.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 15, 2010 at 1:33 pm

This just keeps going from bad to worse......

Like this comment
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Shame on Judge Q-Ball and his side kick Mehdi Morshed. They should know better after all of these years.

Like this comment
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 15, 2010 at 5:19 pm

The point that is being missed here is that there has been an accumulation of "bad behavior" that, in some cases, should be leading to indictments. I don't know why there is no more thorough investigation into the personal financial activities of the Board members. Where is the FBI? How much flagrant law violating does it take to raise enough red flags to proceed with a real and comprehensive investigation?

Like this comment
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Not that not reporting trip details should be condoned or allowed, but this is pretty small potatoes stuff and is hardly shocking. What's more interesting is noting how the commentators here make as though they're outraged and shocked and upset and etc. The fact is that most of them would be outraged and shocked and upset no matter who paid for the trips and regardless of whether they were correctly documented and reported or not -- because the very existence of the project and everyone associated with it and pretty much everything that they do in connection with advancing the project is upsetting to a small, vocal and virulently rabid group of Peninsula NIMBY HSR foes. These folks live for and eagerly look forward to the next development to be outraged and shocked over ... so if it's not this it's that. I too am upset, but the difference is that my reaction is to think of how to fix the problems with the HSRA and not doing away with HSR all together.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

Richard Katz resigns from HSR

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Rayofsunshine
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Nov 18, 2010 at 9:45 am

[Post removed. Please stay on topic.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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