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Councilmember Davis Has Financial Conflict of Interest in Miramar Project, FPPC Says
 

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By Jorge Casuso

February 5, 2021 -- California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has advised Councilmember Gleam Davis that she has a financial conflict of interest that bars her from participating in any decisions concerning the Miramar Hotel.

Davis recused herself from the September 29 deliberations and 4 to 2 vote to approve the Miramar's 502,157-square-foot redevelopment project after a community activist questioned her husband's financial ties to the company that owns the oceanfront hotel.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Davis' husband, John Prindle, is a global account manager for Dell EMC, a subsidiary of Dell Technologies, whose founder and CEO Michael Dell owns the Miramar through his private investment firm MSD Capital.

In a letter dated October 16, the FPPC's General Counsel Dave Bainbridge advised Davis that she has a financial conflict under the State's Political Reform Act (PRA).

"The Act would prohibit you from taking part in decisions concerning the Fairmont Miramar Hotel because it is owned by Ocean Avenue LLC, an entity which is otherwise related to a business that is a source of income to you," Bainbridge wrote.

He noted that the Political Reform Act "defines 'income' to include 'any community property interest in the income of a spouse.'"

Bainbridge said that "nothing in this advice letter should be construed to advise about any conduct that has already taken place."

Before giving the Miramar's owners the final go-ahead last year, the Council took up the project only once, according to City staff.

In early 2012, it held float-up discussions and in April gave staff authorization to proceed with project negotiations and environmental review.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Prindle he did not begin working for Dell until December 2012.

Davis, however, took part in deliberations and approval of the Downtown Community Plan that directly affected the Miramar Project ("Plan for Santa Monica’s Downtown Receives Initial Nod from City Council," July 13, 2017 ).

Before recusing herself from last September's decision, Davis, who is an attorney, contended that her family does not stand to benefit financially from the Council's approval of the Miramar expansion.

"Private investments made by Michael Dell’s family do not, in any way, play a role in determining my husband’s compensation," Davis said at the time.

"So my family does not have an economic interest in the outcome of the Miramar decision" ("Councilmember Seeks Opinion on Potential Conflict in Miramar Vote," September 22, 2021).

The FPPC disagreed. It noted that Michael Dell directs and controls Dell Technologies as the chair and CEO and along with his wife has 91 percent control of Ocean Avenue LLC, which owns the Miramar.

"Thus, you have a financial interest in The Fairmont Miramar and Ocean Avenue LLC," Bainbridge wrote.

As a result, "the financial effect of the decision on Ocean Avenue LLC is both foreseeable and material, and the Act prohibits you from taking part in these decisions," he concluded.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 1 p.m. February 8 to note that Davis participated in the Downtown Community Plan.


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