UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, MAY 17 — The Fair Political Practices Commission meeting that was scheduled for Thursday (May 18), during which the panel would discuss whether a Palo Alto councilwoman can continue getting paid to speak, has been postponed.
The meeting has been pushed to June 15 because the five-member commission would not enough members present, said FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga.
Currently, the board is only operating with four members due to a long term vacancy. One of the four was not available at all on Thursday. Another only had an hour of time for Thursday’s hearing. That would have left the board with just two members, so Wierenga said the agenda was postponed until next month.
The item involving Palo Alto councilwoman Julie Lythcott-Haims will be heard then.
This story has been corrected to clear up a confusion about how many commission members would be available on Thursday.
ORIGINAL STORY, MAY 12 — The Fair Political Practices Commission will consider on Thursday (May 18) whether a Palo Alto councilwoman can continue getting paid to speak while she’s on council – a ruling that could force her to choose between public office and her business.
Commissioners at Thursday’s hearing will weigh in on an advice letter sent to Councilwoman Julie Lythcott-Haims telling her to reduce her income from speaking so that it makes up less than half of her income.
If not, then Lythcott-Haims would be violating a section of the Political Reform Act that prevents public officials from getting paid for speeches, FPPC lawyers said.
Lythcott-Haims gave 37 promotional book talks and workshops over the past year about parenting, race and youth development, according to her lawyer.
She said she is challenging the rule “for the sake of the many ‘thought leaders'” who want to run for office, and because her paid speeches are in other cities and have nothing to do with Palo Alto.
“Once I receive the final word from the FPPC on this issue, I will decide whether I am able to continue to serve,” she said in an email to the Post.
Lythcott-Haims said she became aware of the rules preventing elected officials from getting paid for speeches in August, when she filed papers to run for council.
She hired lawyer Gary Winuk, who was the FPPC’s chief of enforcement from 2009 to 2015.
“Now, if I tell you what my lawyer specifically advised me, I could violate attorney-client privilege,” she said in an email to her supporters on April 23.
City Attorney Molly Stump suggested in January that Lythcott-Haims seek specific advice from the FPPC, according to Lythcott-Haims.
That’s when Winuk sent a letter to FPPC’s legal division explaining her situation, and the FPPC responded on April 7.
Specifically, lawyers Brian Lau and Dave Bainbridge said that Lythcott-Haims can’t get paid for a speech if more than half of her income is from speaking engagements in the previous 12 months.
“Haters gonna hate, and I’m gonna keep going,” Lythcott-Haims said in a May 5 email to supporters.
City Manager Ed Shikada is supporting Lythcott-Haims.
“I’m so sorry you’re needing to deal with this,” he said in an email on April 12. “I agree that appealing is the right thing to do; please let me know if I can assist in any way.”
Hold on. JLH said: “ Once I receive the final word from the FPPC on this issue, I will decide whether I am able to continue to serve.” What does she mean, continue to serve? I don’t object to her running for office and then challenging the election law (nor do I necessarily think the law should be changed). But if she ran for office and is threatening to resign if she doesn’t get the situation she wants… yikes.
““Haters gonna hate, and I’m gonna keep going,” Lythcott-Haims said in a May 5 email to supporters.”
I don’t see what haters have to do with expecting her to follow the law. I can, though, see why her supportes, other candidates and all voters would be upset at all the time and money wasted on the campaigns.
Her comment “Haters gonna hate, and I’m gonna keep going” fits right in line with everything I’ve seen from her. Her attitude is that it’s all about her. In fact, she believes special exceptions should be made to the law just for her. What an ego!
I think JLH is projecting when she uses the word “haters”. Remember when she said Doria Summa was channeling Jim Crow?
It will be interesting to learn if California’s laws apply to all or just some.
If you’re special, like Julie, the laws don’t apply to you.