Scott Ellis 8:30 a.m., May 24
California's political watchdog OKs media moonlighting by Assembly staffer in San Diego
Field representative for Democrat Shirley Weber also works for Voice & Viewpoint newspaper and in marketing gigs for non-profit Reality Changers and Internet's Imagine Media Group, regulator's opinion letter says
An aide to Democratic 79th District Assemblywoman Shirley Weber has been told by the state's political watchdog agency that it is okay for her to be a reporter for a local newspaper, work in public relations and as a social media director for a non-profit group, as well as to be employed by an online marketing and event planning outfit, as long as she discloses all of the outside income on her annual personal financial disclosure report.
A May 14 advice letter to Chula Vista's Marivic JoAnn Fields from California Fair Political Practices Commission General Counsel Zackery P. Morazzini outlines the situation:
You are a Field Representative for the Office of California State Assembly Member Shirley N. Weber – 79th District. You have worked part-time for Assembly Member Weber’s office since January 2013. Field Representatives are a designated position, and you therefore file a Form 700 (statement of economic interests), with full disclosure.
You also work for the following entities:
Reality Changers (RC), a non-profit organization that provides after-school tutoring for high school students. You are the Associate Director for Media and Community Outreach. Your duties include making presentations for community leaders, organizations, and potential sponsors of RC. You also maintain RC’s social media networks, prepare media advisories and releases, and send out an e-newsletter. You may also contribute content for the newsletter.
San Diego Voice & Viewpoint, a local newspaper, for which you are a staff writer and photo journalist covering community festivals, youth, women and faith-based events. To maintain your journalistic integrity, you have requested not to cover any events that include Assembly Member Shirley Weber.
Imagine Media Group, LLC, a group that specializes in web design, marketing campaigns and event planning. You assist non-profit organizations that generally cannot afford a full-time public relations/marketing staff person and assist in navigating government resources, such as grant workshops, letters of support, meet and greets, and other resources.
Morazzini goes on to say that state law prohibits legislative employees from accepting "honoraria," which the letter describes as "any payment made in consideration for any speech given, article published, or attendance at any public or private conference, convention, meeting, social event, meal, or like gathering."
But, the letter adds, there is an exception in the law for “employment in a bona fide business, trade, or profession, such as teaching, practicing law, medicine, insurance, real estate, banking, or building contracting.”
Because Fields says she “will be writing non-fiction articles for a local newspaper and providing marketing and organizational support for non-profit organizations,” concludes Morazzini, “the honorarium provisions do not apply to you within these job duties.”
Fields’s income will have to be reported on her personal financial disclosure filed with the California Secretary of State’s office, the advice letter says.
According to data posted online by the Assembly, the staffer makes $1505 a month working 57 percent of a full time Assembly staff job.
We have a call in to Fields for more details.