Djou acted ethically in informing public
City Councilman Rod Tam has accused Councilman Charles Djou of violating the city's ethics code.
CITY Councilman Charles Djou's willingness to publicly disclose details of the proposed settlement of a lawsuit
has infuriated other Council members, but he was free to exercise his judgment about the disclosure. Councilman Rod Tam's complaint to the city Ethics Commission that Djou did so for "personal gain" is preposterous.
In April, Djou told reporters that the City Council, meeting behind closed doors, gave tentative approval to settle a lawsuit brought by the Environmental Protection Agency that would include expenditure of $300 million to fix aging sewer lines. "From my vantage point, I think people have a right to know," Djou said.
Council Chairwoman Barbara Marshall then proposed a system for excluding a member who had revealed closed-door information from attending future executive sessions. But such an exclusion would unfairly deny the member's constituency full representation on the Council.
Tam contends that Djou violated a conflict-of-interest clause of the ethics code that members not "disclose confidential information gained by reason of such person's office or position to use such information for the personal gain or benefit of anyone." He said Djou benefited by having his name published in the newspaper.
That is ludicrous. "Personal gain or benefit" in the ethics code means financial or other gain in the private sector, such as using it to gain city contracts for family members. For example, if Marshall, a former TV news reporter, still had that job and reported such executive goings-on to viewers, she would be in violation. Djou did not violate the ethics code.
Tam's further accusation that Djou violated attorney-client privilege also is wrong, since such privilege binds only the attorney, not the client. Although a lawyer, Djou was the client in his role as Council member.
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