On April 24, 2017 the FPPC issued a Warning Letter to Mr. Dicterow as a result of the sworn complaints filed against him in October and November of 2016. Broadly, the FPPC found that Mr. Dicterow had failed to properly disclose his ownership of non-primary-residence income property he owns within his area of influence; going back to at least 2012. However, since he immediately filed an amended 2016 Candidate Form 700 once the complaint was filed they believed this multi-year snafu was a mere oversight, sloppiness or failure to understand the filing rules. As for the second complaint, that Mr. Dicterow had failed to disclose income received from a business with current, past, or future operations in Laguna Beach, they failed to find evidence of such operation, and hence reaffirmed that he needn’t disclose such income.
What is an FPPC “Warning Letter” and how serious is it? From the FPPC’s website:
- Warning Letters – A Warning Letter is issued if a violation of the Act is found but the seriousness of the offense is low, public harm is minimal, and/or other mitigation is found so that a monetary fine is not warranted. Since no administrative penalty is imposed, these letters are issued by the Enforcement Division and do not require approval by the Commissioners. A warning letter can be considered a prior action by the Enforcement Division when considering a future penalty.
LagunaBeachCHAT is satisfied with the decision. This author (who made the sworn complaints against Mr. Dicterow) believes too, that Mr. Dicterow probably did not materially gain advantage through his position on the City Council with regards to his property in Laguna Woods. But he might have or might in the future and citizens of Laguna Beach deserve to know about his economic interests in this property. As for the second complaint, this author realizes that he failed to ‘connect the dots’ well-enough for the FPPC to find for that complaint. We still believe that Mr. Dicterow’s ‘unusual’ legal-retainer income for American Computer Optics Inc., owned by a Laguna Beach resident with occasional business coming before the council, should have been disclosed. Although the FPPC could not find that ACO conducted business in Laguna Beach (thereby requiring any income derived from this company to be disclosed by Mr. Dicterow), I strongly believe Mr. Dicterow has an obligation to reveal this income arrangement to Laguna Beach’s citizens as long as it continues.
In the end analysis, LagunaBeachCHAT remains concerned and perplexed at how a (now) 5-term City Council member who is by profession, an attorney could have been filing Form 700s for 16 years and fail to understand or worse, feel that accurate disclosures were so trivial, so as not to have understood the filing guidelines and minimum requirements. Rest assured that if we come into additional information with regards to ACO’s operations, or indeed discover any other unreported material economic interest of any of our City council members, we will investigate, and where warranted, file future sworn complaints with the FPPC.
We provide the reader with the FPPC Warning Letter here.
To read the original posting about the complaints here on this site, click here.