The state's political watchdog agency has cleared Supervisor Dave Potter of wrongdoing in connection with a 2011 trip to Ireland.
Gary Winuk, chief investigator for the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said Potter produced receipts proving he and his wife paid for the trip. The couple traveled to Ireland to attend the wedding of friends who are involved in the horse-racing industry.
Winuk said the FPPC's investigation is ongoing, however, into potential conflicts of interest involving Potter, Supervisor Lou Calcagno and former county water board member Steve Collins in connection with the county's failed desalination project.
Collins is facing criminal charges for collecting more than $160,000 from private firm RMC for his efforts on behalf of the desal proposal while he was a public official. RMC was working for Marina Coast and later earned the $25 million project management contract. The project fell apart after revelations regarding Collins' dual role.
The FPPC announced the closure of the investigation into Potter's Ireland trip in a letter to his attorney on Monday, the day before Potter faces Marc Del Piero in an election for his seat on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.
Winuk said the FPPC initiated the investigation after hearing about the trip during its inquiry into the failed desalination project. The agency was told the Potters traveled expense-free to attend the wedding of William and Nina de Burgh of Rancho Santa Fe.
De Burgh heads the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and his brother is one of the leading horse breeders in Ireland.
"The allegation was that he had accepted a gift, but he produced receipts to show he paid for the trip himself and therefore there was no violation of the (Political Reform) Act," Winuk said.
Virginia Hennessey can be reached at 753-6751 or firstname.lastname@example.org