[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.
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.
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.