Mountain View Voice

News - October 15, 2010

After some prodding, Siegel discloses stocks

by Daniel DeBolt

In his bid for re-election, council member Jac Siegel recently amended his financial disclosure forms a week after they were due to include the stock investments in his retirement account, something he previously thought was not required.

"I'm going to disclose everything," whether it is required or not, Siegel said Monday.

The Fair Political Practices Commission requires that candidates report their financial interests to help the public and public officials determine where there may be conflicts of interest. Siegel was spurred by city hall gadfly Don Letcher, who called local newspapers and even filed an incident report with police over the issue.

Siegel apparently misunderstood the instructions for FPPC form 700 to say that only "common stocks" had to be reported, which he said he doesn't own. A closer look at the paragraph Siegel found confusing shows that common stocks are described as just one example of the types of investments that need to be disclosed. In a 16-page "reference pamphlet" explaining form 700 found on its website, the FPPC stipulates that a council candidate should "report investment funds in which the value of your interest is $2,000 or more." Registered, diversified mutual funds are exempt, however.

After the complaint, Siegel said that the FPPC could not tell him right away whether his stocks needed to be disclosed because of what he called a "gray area" in the law. He said that he was disclosing everything rather than waiting for the FPPC to clarify what he needed to disclose.

It turns out that Siegel has three stocks worth between $10,000 and $100,000, including two kinds of stock in Wells Fargo and stock in the German financial giant Allianz. He also owns stock worth between $2,000 and $10,000 in SATURNS DKF, which he calls a "structured asset corporation" on the form.

Candidates face up to a $5,000 fine for each disclosure violation from the FPPC.

Siegel also disclosed between $10,000 and $100,000 in rental income from a home that he owns in Mountain View, which has the address blacked out on the form. Other property he said he owns in Santa Cruz County did not have to be disclosed.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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