[NEW SERIES] Ethical Lines Blurred or Crossed? The Story of Misappropriated Tax Dollars by Councilmember Mike Carroll
The Irvine Watchdog will be starting a new series titled, Ethical Lines Blurred or Crossed, presenting real life situations that our city has or is facing pertaining to our current City Councilmembers, and then asking our readers to be the judge.
The series begins with the story uncovered by the Voice of OC in September of 2020 regarding Councilmember Mike Carroll’s use of taxpayer dollars for mailers. The public learned that Councilmember Mike Carroll misappropriated $70,000 in Irvine tax dollars for political mailers. This money was intended for the sole purpose of hiring staff members. Each Councilmember is given $80,000 to hire staff. Instead, Carroll used $70,000 out of the $80,000 on political mailers, resulting in a policy violation.
For the full story read Voice of OC article titled, Irvine City Councilman Carroll’s Taxpayer Funded Mailers Called Into Question.
Irvine City Councilman Carroll’s Taxpayer Funded Mailers Called Into Question
According to the city budget policy, Carroll did not have the authority to reallocate the funds the way he did, resulting in a policy violation.
However, on November 24, 2020, after the 2020 General Election, Carroll asked the Interim City Manager for a budget adjustment to be placed on the City Council agenda, on his own, to retroactively approve $30,000 of the money he spent on mailers to cover up his misdeed.
Read the November 25, 2020 report by the Voice of OC titled, Irvine City Council Approves Councilman Mike Carroll’s Mailer Spending Despite City Policy Violation.
Irvine City Council Approves Councilman Mike Carroll’s Mailer Spending Despite City Policy Violation
At the November 24, 2020 City Council meeting, Carroll then voted on the policy adjustment in response to the money he had personally misappropriated, and ended up being the deciding vote. The item was moved by Councilmember Anthony Kuo, seconded by Councilmember Farrah Khan, and passed 3-2:
According to Cal. Gov’t Code § 87102.5, “a public official shall not participate in any action or decision by the legislature, including votes, if a conflict of interest exists.”
Were Ethical Lines Blurred or Crossed?
- Was it unethical for Councilmember Carroll to spend money allocated for staff on political mailers instead?
- Should Councilmember Carroll have been allowed to vote on the City Budget Policy which he violated?
- Should Councilmember Carroll have been required to recuse himself from voting to change the City Budget Policy to which he violated?
You be the judge. Comment below.
Jeremy FicarolaJanuary 30, 2022 at 9:57 am
And Mike Carroll votes on his own ethical violation. Well that’s a giant conflict of interest. He proved to be the pivot vote on his own mailer violation. Insane.
Doug ElliottJanuary 30, 2022 at 12:01 pm
It was wrong for Carroll to divert public funds for his own purposes. It was wrong for the Council to retroactively whitewash his conduct, and it was wrong for Carroll to serve as a juror in his own case. But I’ll go a step further–he should have been required to repay the funds he essentially stole from the City.
John StilesJanuary 31, 2022 at 10:27 am
These circumstances took place nearly two years ago, but voters cannot forget, voters should not forget. Ethics and transparency are important values to the City of Irvine, so the priorities of Irvine Watchdog are exactly in the right place. 1) Absolutely! For residents who are not aware, the mailers were coordinated by then-Vice Mayor Carroll’s Council Executive Assistant, Steve Morton. The budget for the entirety of the City Council was $8,000 for mail and postage expenses during FY 2019-2020 and FY 2020-2021 (at most, approximately $2,000 per Councilmember). As you will read, according to the Voice of OC, Councilmember Carroll “let go of his staff to fund [the mailers].” This expense was not just over-budget, but depending on how you look at it, it was at least nearly nine times the budgeted amount. Each Councilmember has Council Executive Assistants because, by law, the City Council is a part-time position. This is why the funds for Council Executive Assitant salaries had been restricted funds until decisions made by the City Council in 2021, not only increasing the Council Executive Assistant budget from $80,000 to $175,000, but also making these funds unrestricted funds. 2) No, the penalties, if the City Council had not approved the budget adjustment, were of direct interest to Councilmember Carroll. 3) He should have, but ultimately this was his own decision, or perhaps a decision he made in consultation with the City Attorney. It was absolutely unethical for him to cast a vote on this decision, and for that when Councilmember Carroll goes to bed at night, his pillow is warm on both sides. Thank you, Branda, for writing this article.
Dee FoxFebruary 6, 2022 at 7:14 pm
No doubt MIKE CARROLL crossed way over ethical lines! He is suppose to be above reproach as a city council member, working for the people. If anyone in the private sector was caught taking funds from their employer, they would be fired. They also would face criminal charges because of the dollar amount. But FARRAH KHAN gave him a free pass. You have to wonder if it was because he was already pre-selected to Chair the Orange County Power Authority, which is another concern, and that’s why it got swept under the carpet? Where did MIKE CARROLL come from anyway? Seems he has sat on various city Boards as an APPOINTEE and not as an ELECTED OFFICIAL by THE PEOPLE, that is, until he spent over $70,000 of unauthorized taxpayer funds to promote himself. It also appears he has paid someone to scrub the internet of his past history. Wonder what he has to hide? This guy is not about Irvine, he is about himself. I am thankful to people like Branda that keep a watch on corrupt people like MIKE CARROLL! Way to go, Branda … and keep it up! The Orange County Power Authority should keep you very busy!
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