Santa Monica school leader voted on contracts with firms that did business with her husband, documents show

A Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board member has been casting votes that benefited construction management and financial advisory companies without disclosing that her husband does business with those firms, school board records as well as sworn testimony show.

Maria Leon-Vazquez’s votes could violate state conflict-of-interest laws, according to experts on those laws. Public officials are prohibited from being financially interested in contracts made with their agencies, said Steve Cooley, former Los Angeles County district attorney.

Leon-Vazquez’s husband is Santa Monica Councilman Tony Vazquez, a political consultant who is also campaigning for a state Board of Equalization seat. Neither returned calls seeking comment.

Vazquez testified in a sworn deposition a year ago that he has been a paid consultant to TELACU Construction Management and Keygent LLC, two firms that have won contracts with the district.

“What has to be done in a situation like that is for an inquiry to be opened to ascertain if there truly is any financial gain to the person or the spouse of the person who is making material decisions on that transaction in question and benefiting financially,” Cooley said. “After that inquiry is conducted and it appears that a violation of [the conflict of interest law] has occurred, then a more formal investigation and gathering of evidence would likely ensue.”


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