Questions Expand After Changes in MWD’s Ethics Office

The recent departure of MWD’s ethics officer and the appointment of an interim officer is raising new questions about the independence of the critical post.  The LA Times reported that Deena Ghaley stepped down on Sept. 12, saying it had “become ‘impossible’ for her to carry out her duties of creating, administering and enforcing ethics rules.”

MWD’s Ethics Office was established by the state Legislature in 1999, following a campaign by MWD to disrupt a Water Authority water conservation-and-transfer agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District.

“It appears that MWD management may now be attempting to interfere with the role of the Ethics Office by eliminating the Office’s current staff and replacing them with individuals who will not be independent, but rather be direct representatives of, and conduits to, management,” Water Authority General Counsel Mark Hattam said in a Sept. 14 letter to MWD. “This would be completely unacceptable, and would destroy confidence among MWD staff and the public that MWD’s Ethics Office is a neutral, unbiased and independent entity within MWD.”

Hattam insisted that MWD management not be granted access to Ethics Office files and that the Ethics Office be maintained as completely independent of MWD management in all respects.

Click here to read the letter.