DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA The former councilman and trustee of the Bug Board is ignoring the threat of a $15,000 fine for failing to file financial disclosure statements required for public officials.
This is Karl Baker’s dilemma. Does he report his business and admit a conflict of interest or does he turn in a Form 700 without listing his business thus perjuring himself. Karl Baker’s choice has been to simply not file the required disclosure of his finances.
The FPPC first notified Karl Baker on February 1 of this year warning him of the financial penalties. Today they informed Baker the investigation was advancing to the enforcement division.
The annual financial statement known as Form 700 is required by the State Fair Political Practices commission for public officials and serves to expose real or potential conflicts of interest in an effort to keep politicians honest. The Form list incomes, business matters and financial gifts.
Baker failed to file for three public agencies with each carrying the threat of a $5,000 fine.
Baker lost the 2011 election and is no longer serving as a council member for the city of Desert Hot Springs. He also no longer represents the city at the Coachella Valley Association of Governments. However Karl Baker remains a trustee on the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District informally known as the Bug Board. The Form 700 for the year of 2011 is required for all three.
By law all three clerks were required to report to the FPPC at the beginning of the year that Baker had not filed his 2011 Form 700. The city of Desert Hot Springs reported to the FPPC, the others did not.
In an unusual move Karl Baker did file one Form 700 with The Bug Board but it was deceptively modified. By striking out the year 2011 replacing it with 2012 Baker was attempting to fool some people regarding his Form 700 for 2011. Karl Baker’s modification initially confused the clerk at The Bug Board but the Bug Board attorney and the FPPC concur the filing was deceptive and does not comply.
There may be a reason Karl Baker is reticent about filing his 2011 Form 700. Media investigations in 2011 exposed Karl Baker’s uncontested involvement with Chryss Home Automation, a security alarm business that was contracted to do business with the city.
Karl Baker’s involvement with Chryss Home Automation was considerable. The business operated out of the councilman’s home. Karl Baker opened the bank account and his signature endorsed the backs of numerous city checks paid to the business. The only debit card for the business had Karl Baker’s name embossed on it. Even his roommate and business associate, Peter Chryss declared in a sworn deposition that Karl Baker was aware of the business matters and participated in the business.
Also, one of the attachments confirms Karl Baker solicited or lobbied for The Bug Board to do business with his business, Chryss Home Automation. Karl Baker wrote as if he was a casual acquaintance of Peter Chryss and not business associates and roommates.
More evidence of Karl Baker’s alleged conflict of interest was confirmed inside a fifteen page city report submitted to the police chief leaving Karl Baker between a rock and a hard place in regards to Form 700 disclosure.
This is Karl Baker’s dilemma. Submitting Form 700 and not disclosing his business interest in Chyrss Home Automation would likely be be perjury while revealing his business interest would likely be conflict of interest. This leaves Karl Baker exposed to being screwed either way from both ends.
Interesting enough it seems Karl Baker’s strategy is to do nothing. It also appears that the FPPC is not going to ignore Karl Baker.
photo by Bruce Montgomery
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