FPPC investigating alleged conflict of state coastal commissioner

The California Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating a formal complaint filed against state Coastal Commissioner Pat Kruer, who recused himself in April from a key vote on a San Diego waterfront project after inewsource examined his brother’s ties to the development.

Civic activist Ian Trowbridge, a retired professor, filed the complaint with the FPPC, alleging Kruer has a financial tie to his brother’s company and had a legal conflict of interest when he advocated for the project at a previous meeting.

Kruer made a motion to approve the North Embarcadero project at a February commission meeting, saying “everybody should jump up and down” to support it. He did not disclose that his brother’s firm, J.T. Kruer & Co. had a contract to estimate costs and plan construction for the development, which would include an esplanade and loading area for a cruise ship terminal.

After inewsource asked Kruer about his brother’s contract, he recused himself from the final vote on the project. The coastal commission deadlocked and rejected the plan.

As a part of its investigation, inewsource found Pat Kruer’s real estate investment firm, the Monarch Group of La Jolla, leases property to J.T. Kruer & Co.

In his complaint, Trowbridge asserted this lease was a financial tie and that Kruer “benefits directly in the success of his brother’s business.” Neither Pat Kruer nor his brother Jonathan Kruer returned phone calls seeking interviews today.

State law prohibits public officials such as Kruer from voting on or influencing matters in which they have a financial interest. Roman Porter, executive director of the FPPC, said this is an active, ongoing investigation and could not speculate as to when it would be complete. He said the FPPC can impose fines up to $5,000 per violation.

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