A member of the regulatory commission that controls coastal development in California was fined by the state’s ethics watchdog on Thursday for voting on an expansion of SeaWorld’s San Diego theme park while his wife owned stock in the company.
Gregory Cox, who is also a longtime member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement Thursday he did not know that his wife had purchased 500 shares of SeaWorld stock in January of 2015 for her personal retirement account, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
“When I discovered the purchase, the stock was sold and the facts were reported,” Cox said. “Both my wife and I deeply regret the oversight.”
About three months after Cheryl Cox bought the stock for $8,679, SeaWorld filed an application with the California Coastal Commission to expand a facility at which captive orcas, or killer whales, are held and shown to the public.
Cox introduced a motion to support the project with limitations on the number of orcas involved, voting ultimately to support an amended version calling for an end to SeaWorld’s orca breeding program. On Thursday, the California Fair Political Practices Commission voted to fine him $3,000.
The SeaWorld shows, which the park has since said it would end along with its orca breeding program, have been controversial for years, with public opposition growing after the 2013 documentary “Blackfish” depicted the captivity and public exhibition of killer whales as inherently cruel.
The criticism intensified after three orcas died at SeaWorld San Antonio within a six-month span in 2015.
SeaWorld said last month that it would stop breeding killer whales in captivity, bowing to years of pressure from animal rights activists. The company has also said that it will phase out its signature “Shamu” killer whale shows in San Diego with modified presentations of the animals that focused on conservation.
Cox told the FPPC he discovered that his wife owned the stock in January while preparing his taxes and his annual disclosure of economic interests as a public official.
He asked her to sell the stock, and reported the conflict to the FPPC, documents show.
But the FPPC said Cox and his wife, a former mayor of the city of Chula Vista who sold her stock for about $9,593, were longtime elected officials who “had a high level of awareness” of conflict of interest laws.
Cox should have known that he had a conflict, the FPPC said.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Bernard Orr)
News flash: Trump’s no racist!
The gap that Donald Trump continually shows us between word and deed is remarkable. He lets words hurt while ignoring the substance of what the words mean.
That public words that various people, from both in and out of government or politics, say about him seem to matter a whole lot more than actual events, scandals or bad governmental behavior reflecting on his presidency. We’re used to it by now, numb really, so, it seems useful to step back and look at the pattern.
Even so, his tweets on Sunday telling four rebellious first-year congresswomen, citizens who are all of color, that they should return to where they came from “to go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” is an insult that crosses all borders. As it happens, three of the four are American-born, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Mich.) has been a naturalized citizen since age 12.
Morning Joe panel brutally dismantles Lindsey Graham for doubling down and backing Trump’s extreme racism
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough was left speechless by Sen. Lindsey Graham's impassioned defense of President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen.
The "Morning Joe" host sat in stunned silence after rolling video of the South Carolina Republican defending Trump's tweets, and doubling down by hurling his own slurs against the first-year lawmakers.
"You call Americans in Congress communists?" Scarborough said, after gathering his thoughts, "and you say they hate America? And then your punch line to that is aim higher?"
Scarborough, who served alongside Graham as a Republican congressman, said the episode was a shameful new low for the veteran lawmaker.
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The Pacific leatherback sea turtle, at up to 2,200 pounds the largest turtle on earth, could disappear from our oceans, yet Trump regulators have OK’d a type of fishing that could wipe out the massive animals.
Pacific leatherback sea turtles are one of eight turtle species the Fisheries Service has identified as most at risk of extinction. The number of West Pacific leatherback sea turtles declined about 6% a year from the 1980s through 2011.