May 27, 2014
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Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin was apparently unaware of the state-mandated rules requiring elected officials to report gifts from foreign governments, as she failed to report the $4,499 the Ecuadorean government paid for her to travel to its country, according to the West County Times.

The mayor had not added the travel gift to her Form 700 until earlier this month, after a reporter questioned her about why the gift hadn’t been reported.

The full story from the West County Times can be read here.

McLaughlin traveled to Ecuador for six days to support the South American nation in a lawsuit against Chevron alleging environmental destruction in the Amazon forest. Six months after her visit, a U.S. judge threw out the case against Chevron, ruling an American attorney fabricated evidence and bribed Ecuadorean judges in order to gain a massive judgment against the oil company.

McLaughlin reportedly returned from the Ecuador trip with a “broadened perspective and steeled resolve to continue her struggle against big oil,” the West County Times stated.

The mayor said she didn’t report the travel funds provided by the Ecuadorian government on advice from former Richmond City Attorney Randy Riddle, who declined requests from the West County Times for comment.

While the travel gift doesn’t violate laws, it must be reported, a California Fair Political Practices Commission official told the Times.

The purpose of Form 700 is to let the general public know whether an elected official or candidate has property holdings, other investments and gifts that pose conflicts of interest.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.