SACRAMENTO, CA - Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is being investigated by a California political watchdog group over claims he had a conflict of interest in the Sacramento City Council's vote in favor of big-box stores.
The complaint was filed two weeks ago by Democrat Eric Sunderland, a former city school board candidate.
Sunderland claims Johnson had a conflict of interest in the city council's vote to ease restrictions on big-box stores after Walmart and the Walton Foundation reportedly donated more than $800,000 over the last three years to charities at the behest of Johnson and the city council.
"There was a complaint filed 15 days ago which made this allegation which we reviewed, and again we're not substantiating it, we just decided to open an investigation to take a look and to look into the allegations," Fair Political Practices Commission's Gary Winuk said.
The Fair and Political Practices Commission said they are also looking into whether or not Johnson failed to report gifts.
Winuk said under the law, if you receive a gift from certain individuals or companies, excluding non-profits, it needs to be reported on your economic interest disclosure form. If the gift is over the limit, which this year is $440, and you vote on an interest related to the person who gave you the gift, it can be a conflict of interest.
"Those are serious allegations, and the law provides protections, but also lays out some pretty strict rules on it," Winuk explained. "So, we'll take a look and see if the evidence shows that the act was violated."
In a statement, Johnson's press secretary said, "The Mayor is fully cooperating and confident that the FPPC will find no conflict."
Last year, Johnson was fined $37,500 for failing to report millions in behested payments.
If Johnson is found to be in violation of the law during this investigation, he could again face thousands of dollars in fines.