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FPPC ends investigation Allison K. Sampite | Fri, Sep 03 2010 12:00 PM

Former Chula Vista interim councilman Mitch Thompson received a letter from the Fair Political Practices Commission in August stating that allegations of wrongdoing weren't supported by available evidence and the agency was ending its investigation.

In May, 79th Assembly District Republican candidate Derrick Roach said during a City Council meeting that Thompson had abused his public position as a member of the city's Planning Commission by engaging "in unethical, inappropriate and unlawful activities" by voting on land-use designations that were within 500 feet of property he owns.

Roach then called for Thompson's immediate resignation.

Thompson said the allegations were ridiculous.

Thompson said he disclosed a list of properties he owned to the city attorney once he was appointed to the Planning Commission.

Changes in zoning designation can have an effect on property values, potentially benefiting the owners of nearby parcels.

However, in previous interviews, City Attorney Bart Meisfeld said it is the responsibility of individual elected officials to recuse themselves from a vote that is a potential conflict of interest.

Roach, a private investigator by trade, questions whether the FPPC investigated the case thoroughly.

But executive director Roman Porter said in the last two years there's been an effort to better utilize staff resources while maintaining the integrity of the commission.

"We truly believe that it is in no one's interest to have an unnecessary delay in the amount of time we take to complete our investigation," Porter said.

The letter from the FPPC stated, "...our investigation revealed insufficient evidence of a violation of the Political Reform Act, and we are closing our file on this matter."

However, Roach said that in his 11 years of investigative work he knows what it takes to document things and will continue pursuing the matter with the Chula Vista ethics commission.

"Of course he would say that, he's a Republican-hit man thug- punk," Thompson said.

He added the complaint furthers Roach's cause and taints his name.

"Now Roach can say I was investigated by the FPPC," Thompson said. "And anyone who Google's me will see that."

In 2009, Thompson, a Democrat, was appointd to fill Republican John McCann's seat on the council while he served in Iraq.

Roach had also applied for the post.

Porter said at the end of the day it's the duty of the official to know what their political interests are. "Our role and responsibility, when we're made aware of a potential violation is to look into it, on behalf of the people of California," he said.

"But we also recognized that at certain times, individuals attempt to utilize the complaint as a ploy to campaign."

Roach maintains his actions were based solely as a concerned citizen and said the matter deserves a watchful eye.

He saidhis allegations and call for an investigation were based solely on his concern as a Chula Vista resident.

"I'd been hearing things so I started looking into his background and I found out he was purchasing properties ... I went out with a wheel and found four of them were within 500 feet," he said.

Roach said if he found political discrepancies with members of his own politcal party he'd go after them as well.

"I've gone after Republicans in the past," he said. "I don't play petty games."

Porter said Roach may submit a new complaint with the FPPC and they will evaluate whether it's worth their effort to investigate the matter further.

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