BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Menlo Park Councilwoman Catherine Carlton’s husband owned stock in Facebook when she voted in favor of the company’s expansion along Constitution Drive but she said yesterday (April 27) she was unaware of the investment.
Carlton said she discovered last month that her husband held around $15,000 in Facebook stock. The council unanimously approved the company’s 1 million-square-foot expansion on Nov. 1.
Carlton says she found out while filling out her Form 700 — a document wherein elected officials must disclose their economic interests.
“My husband and I gave clear instructions to his financial advisor not to buy any stock related to Menlo Park,” Carlton said in an email. “I had no reason to think that he would act differently and am very upset that he made this mistake!”
Carlton said the stock was held in her husband’s separate retirement account. The stock was acquired on Sept. 14, 2016, according to her Form 700.
Carlton said she and her husband checked in with their financial advisor about once a year during tax season. Upon finding out about the stock holdings, Carlton said she told the financial advisor to sell the stock, informed City Attorney Bill McClure about the issue and reported the incident to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).
Since then, Carlton has not participated in any other Facebook discussions. This is also related to the fact that a company she consulted for last year did business with Facebook.
McClure said no votes need to be redone regarding the Facebook expansion, which is currently under construction. This is because Carlton did not know her family held stocks in the company, he said.
If council members know they hold stocks in companies that come before the council, they are supposed to recuse themselves. If non-recusals are submitted to the FPPC, it’s possible the council member could be fined.
Last May, late Belmont Councilman Eric Reed was fined $2,000 for not disclosing that he had owned AT&T stock and voted against the utility company’s antenna project in his city.