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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Investigation Continues on Thousand Oaks Council Race

November 11, 2000|JENIFER RAGLAND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

THOUSAND OAKS — As the new City Council prepares to assemble Nov. 28, a Los Angeles law firm is continuing to investigate five complaints of financial impropriety against candidates in the heated municipal election that ended Tuesday.

Incumbent Linda Parks and her unofficial running mate--celebrity attorney Edward L. Masry--cruised to victory over five challengers. Both, however, are targets of citizen complaints alleging that Parks' campaign improperly benefited from Masry's record-breaking $155,000 war chest.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider paying the law firm of Winston & Strawn another $10,000 to evaluate these complaints and take enforcement action, if necessary.

Councilman Mike Markey, Planning Commissioner Jim Bruno and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Joe Gibson have also been named in complaints under review, said Marc Harris, one of the attorneys assigned as special counsel to Thousand Oaks.

Markey in September recommended the council retain the independent law firm because, he argued, the city's campaign finance reforms--limiting contributions to $250, among other things--otherwise had no enforcement teeth.

Harris said he hopes to resolve some of the complaints within weeks, but could not say when the entire investigation would be completed.

"We were hoping to resolve some of these before the election, but that turned out to be impossible with the volume and the timing of the complaints," he said.

The amount of work needed to investigate the issues varies widely, said Harris, who anticipates the firm will be able to get to the bottom of the allegations. The investigations involve poring through campaign documents and literature as well as conducting interviews, he said.

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