Jeannine Pearce

Jeannine Pearce speaks at an event.

If Long Beach City Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce violated the Political Reform Act, the City Prosecutor’s Office won’t be the agency to prosecute her.

City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said in a Friday, Sept. 27, statement that he has discussed conflict-of-interest allegations against Pearce with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and determined the county watchdog would be the proper authority to investigate the accusations and bring any prosecution.

“I have every reason to believe the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office will handle this matter in a thorough, competent, and fair manner,” Haubert said.

A spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday the agency has received a complaint and is reviewing it.

Concerns about conflicts of interest have swirled around Pearce ever since the City Attorney’s office commissioned an independent review of her income and votes on the City Council. That review found earlier this month that Pearce failed to disclose $11,222 of income in 2018 from a business owned by Daniel Zaharoni, the development manager for the Queen Mary’s operator, Urban Commons Queensway.

The investigation, conducted by the law firm Best Best and Krieger, also found that she received $30,000 this year from a separate retail cannabis company controlled by Zaharoni.

Because of both sources of income, the report found, Pearce should recuse herself under the Political Reform Act from voting on anything impacting the Queen Mary or the cannabis industry.

That recusal should last for 12 months after the most recent payment, the document said.

But Pearce participated in a March 12 vote on the proposed development of a gondola system that’d go from downtown Long Beach to the Queen Mary. With the lawyers’ findings, her vote could now be nullified. But, as the vote was unanimous, it would not have an impact on the council’s decision to move ahead with an aerial tramway study.

Best Best and Krieger also found that her statements of economic interest reflected lower levels of income from both companies than she actually received.

“If true, the conduct would be misdemeanor violations of the Political Reform Act,” Haubert said Friday, although he noted that “nothing in this statement should be construed as concluding that Ms. Pearce has violated the law or that any decision has been made by the LADA’s office to pursue criminal charges.

“However,” Haubert added, “if criminal prosecution of the Political Reform Act is brought, it would be by the District Attorney’s Office.”

Haubert’s statement came four days after the Fair Political Practices Commission announced it opened an investigation into the accusations.

Pearce did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. But after news of the FPPC’s decision broke, she said she welcomed the investigation.

“It will be fair, based on facts, unlike an investigation from a politically elected city attorney,” Pearce said in a Wednesday, Sept. 25, email. “I expected this next step, given the fact that the City Attorney’s Office did not complete an investigation. If in fact the FPPC finds there was a violation, I, of course, will abide by their decision.”

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