SACRAMENTO -- The state ethics agency has found insufficient evidence that state Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) violated conflict of interest laws when she asked a staffer to call prison officials for the status of a state claim filed by her husband's company.
However, the intervention by her office drew an advisory letter Tuesday from an attorney for the state Fair Political Practices Commission indicating that the activity created an "appearance" of a conflict and "more care should be taken" in the future.
The agency's investigation found that Walters in 2011 directed one of her staff members, Everett Rice, to make inquiries regarding a constituent complaint that a $105,882 claim filed by the firm Drug Consultants Inc. against the prison system was not being processed expediently.
The firm, which provided medical workers to serve inmates, was co-owned until last year by the senator's husband, David Walters.
Rice made 15 phone calls to state agencies in the next three months to determine the status of the claim, which was eventually settled for $74,400, according to Galena West, senior counsel for the Enforcement Division of the FPPC. The calls were first reported by The Times in May 2012.