The deputy director of San Diego’s Purchasing and Contracting department has agreed to fork over a $3000 penalty to the city’s ethics commission for failing to disclose that his spouse works for San Diego Gas & Electric and its parent, Sempra Energy.
According to his December 14 stipulated agreement with the commission, Matthew Helm failed to report his spouse’s income when he was the audit manager and deputy city auditor in the Office of the City Auditor from 2014 through April 2016, when he assumed his purchasing position. Helm amended his disclosure reports for those years this past July and always avoided potential conflicts, the stipulation says. “Information gathered during the Commission’s investigation, which included an extensive review of communications, examination of financial and contractual transactions, and interviews with past and current co-workers, confirmed that he undertook steps to conscientiously and deliberately refrain from participating in, or otherwise influencing, any municipal decisions that involved the financial interests of San Diego Gas & Electric and/or Sempra Energy,” per the document. Helm’s unnamed spouse received between $10,000 and $100,000 each from SDG&E and Sempra during 2016, according to his amended report.
It isn’t the first time a marital partner of a Sempra employee has faced conflict-of-interest questions. In October, the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission told Kathleen Coates Hedberg, who represents the Helix Water District on the board of the San Diego County Water Authority, that she couldn’t vote on Sempra-related contracts because she was married to a computer engineer employed by San Diego Gas and Electric.