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Ray Nutting: DA’s Sect. 8 letter now public

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From page A1 | August 23, 2013 |

An article last week referenced a letter that  District Attorney Vern Pierson sent to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors in late July. At the time, the Mountain Democrat had not received a copy of that letter and therefore had to speculate to some extent about its exact contents.

The letter, in part, described Pierson’s concerns regarding allegations that in 2010, District 2 Supervisor Ray Nutting had attempted to become an eligible landlord under the federal Section 8 housing assistance program. As an elected official who represents the county on the housing authority board, Nutting was not eligible to participate in that program.

Pierson’s office explained that the letter was addressed only to Board Chairman Ron Briggs and thus was not necessarily intended to become public. DA staff advised that Briggs and/or the board should determine whether or not the document warranted public disclosure. The Mountain Democrat’s request for a copy of the letter was eventually routed through the County Counsel’s Office. A determination was made that the letter could be made public, and deputy county counsel Paula Frantz faxed the two-page letter last Friday.

Although the letter shows that copies of the original were also sent to Chief Administrative Officer Terri Daly, Nutting’s attorney David Weiner, County Counsel Ed Knapp, and to Supervisors Norma Santiago, Brian Veerkamp and Ron Mikulaco, it is indeed addressed solely to “Chairman Briggs.”

Pierson’s letter  relates that during the third week of July, “our office discovered that District II Supervisor Nutting applied to be certified for Public Housing (Section 8), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a landlord for property he owns in El Dorado County.”

Due to a “statutory conflict of interest,” Pierson notes that “county staff correctly rejected his request.”

The DA then describes Nutting’s alleged follow-up, saying the supervisor “used his position to appeal this denial to the then director of HHS. (Daniel Nielson was the director of the county’s Department of Human Services at the time. It is now the Health and Human Services Agency.) Supervisor Nutting then, on county official letterhead, … sent a letter to the regional HUD director seeking a waiver of an obvious conflict of interest. It appears this waiver was never granted under federal law,” Pierson wrote, and added that no such waiver exists under state law.

Pierson told Briggs that he was expressing his concerns so that the chairman “can take the actions you consider appropriate” and concludes, “Given the pending charges and this new information and Supervisor Nutting’s seemingly cavalier attitude toward conflicts of interest, I felt an obligation to advise the board.”

Because Nutting has requested and obtained a postponement of his case, Pierson advises that the case is likely “to go on for a long time.”

Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or cdaley@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @CDaleyMtDemo

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