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FPPC to investigate Howell campaign contribution

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The California Fair Political Practices Commission will investigate a complaint filed by a Pismo Beach resident over a campaign contribution received by Pismo Beach City Councilmember Erik Howell.

The complaint alleges that Howell violated a California ethics law when he voted on a controversial housing project two months after receiving a $1,000 contribution from the project’s consultant to his re-election campaign for City Council. The complaint was filed by Ed Henry and other neighboring residents opposed to the housing development planned for an empty lot on North Silver Shoals Road.

A March 23 letter sent to Henry and Howell informed them that the Fair Political Practices Commission had initiated an investigation.

The project was first approved by the Pismo Beach City Council in September 2014 and then appealed to the California Coastal Commission, which approved the project in November 2015.

During that time, Howell, who’s also a Coastal Commissioner, changed from an opponent of the project to an eventual supporter.

The complaint argues that during the November meeting, Howell should have disclosed the contribution as well as a phone call that he had received from the project’s representative, Susan McCabe of McCabe & Company, a lobbyist known to have heavy sway with the commission. 

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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