The Republican mayor of Encinitas, currently challenging incumbent Democratic county supervisor Dave Roberts, runs a physical therapy business on the side. What to do when a lawyer for DCM Properties, a real estate developer suing the city, is a patient? That was the thorny question Kristin Gaspar posed to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.
“DCM has retained attorney, Greg Day, for legal representation in the lawsuit against the City,” notes a March 14 letter to Gaspar from commission general counsel Hyla P. Wagner. “You and your husband own a physical therapy company (Gaspar Physical Therapy). Mr. Day has been a client of your physical therapy company for over three years. He has been in your office within the past six months for physical therapy and his bills have exceeded $500.”
Concludes Wagner, “Accordingly, you have a financial interest in Mr. Day as a source of income to you.” But, adds Wagner’s letter, “Under the facts presented, Mr. Day is not explicitly involved in the lawsuit filed against the City by his client DCM.” As a result, “we assume Mr. Day will be financially compensated for representing DCM regardless of the governmental decisions made by the City concerning the lawsuit.”
Thus, opines Wagner, Gaspar can vote on DCM matters because “governmental decisions concerning the lawsuit filed against the City by DCM would not have a reasonably foreseeable financial effect on Mr. Day.”
But there are still a few caveats. “You have not indicated any potential financial impacts of the DCM lawsuit on Mr. Day,” said Wagner in her letter to Gaspar. “However, if Mr. Day will receive a measurable financial benefit or loss from the City’s decisions related to the litigation (e.g. he is representing DCM on a contingency basis and his compensation is based on the outcome of the litigation), then you should seek further advice.”
Wagner also noted that Day does legal work for Gaspar’s physical therapy operation. DCM sued Encinitas in January, charging that a so-called residential density bonus law isn’t generous enough to developers. In February, the council voted 4-0, with Gaspar recusing, to fight the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Gaspar continues to build her supervisorial campaign war chest from local business interests, hauling in $30,000 from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee on March 9.