The California Fair Political Practices Commission has formally closed two inquiries into possible violations by Calaveras County District 4 Supervisor Dennis Mills.
The commission found there was not enough evidence to pursue enforcement action in both cases.
In one complaint, Trevor Wittke, a frequent critic of Mills and other supervisors who voted for a county ban on commercial cannabis in January, alleged that Mills received gifts in excess of $470 in the form of public relations materials and consulting services from The Communication Institute for preparation of a 61-page report titled “Cultivating Disaster: The Effect of Cannabis Cultivation on the Environment of Calaveras County.”
Mills presented the report and unveiled its website at an Oct. 18 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Wittke and others with the Calaveras Cannabis Alliance said Mills’ actions constituted a disqualifying conflict of interest, and he should have recused himself from decisions the Board of Supervisors voted on that day and on Jan. 10, when the board split 3-2 to approve the current ban.
Galena West, the FPPC enforcement division chief, told Mills in a May 16 closure letter the enforcement division found insufficient evidence of a violation of the Political Reform Act, and will not pursue an enforcement action.
It could not be established that Mills had “an economic interest in the entity that provided him the report,” Teri Rindahl, a political reform consultant with the FPPC enforcement division, told Wittke in a Thursday email.
Wittke said he and others with Calaveras Cannabis Alliance will most likely appeal the decision on the grounds that Mills had a conflict of interest when he voted to pay for a third party review of his report, over which he exercised clear ownership and control at the time in which he voted to have it reviewed.
In the other complaint, an undisclosed individual or individuals alleged that Mills had a conflict of interest when he voted against a motion to reimburse Robert Toynbee $175.89 to cover the cost of copies of a report presented to the Board of Supervisors at a meeting on Nov. 14.
On Jan. 23, the only supervisor who voted against the motion was Mills, who disclosed after the vote he had personally reimbursed Toynbee prior to the meeting.
In an April 18 closure letter sent to Mills, West said that based on a review of the complaint and documents received and obtained during initial review of the allegations, the FPPC enforcement division found insufficient evidence of a conflict of interest violation, and will not pursue enforcement.
Mills shared the FPPC’s finding of insufficient evidence for the conflict of interest complaint tied to the $175.89 reimbursement with The Union Democrat. He did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.
Contact Guy McCarthy at email@example.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.