BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez said Tuesday she’ll “abstain from any future votes on cannabis” amid claims of a pot conspiracy and collusion.
The allegations also surround her husband’s business dealings, people claiming there is a conflict of interest.
The two have been accused by Supervisor Mike Maggard of using "illegal pot money" to fund his competitors campaign.
“I have done quite a bit of soul-searching in the last few months about this subject,” she said before making the announcement during a Board of Supervisors meeting while discussing cannabis initiatives.
Perez has faced accusations of having a conflict of interest because her husband reportedly works as a paid political consultant for marijuana businesses.
Perez maintained she’s cast all her marijuana-related votes while weighing the best interests of the county, not her household. But, she said she’s decided to stay out of future votes as a matter of public trust.
The county supervisors voted 4-1 last fall to prohibit commercial cannabis activity, including cultivation. Perez was the dissenting vote.
“I am deeply sorry for the impressions this whole system and this whole transaction has given some people, good people,” she said.
Perez also called on Maggard to abstain from any future vote involving marijuana.
"I would ask my chairman to please consider the same in all due humility and respect to him, this body and the public," Perez said.
Maggard has been the target of political corruption claims, including bribery, surrounding cannabis.
"If there are members of this board who have a conflict to interest and they feel they need to recuse themselves, then that’s what they need to do," Maggard said. "But, I won’t be bullied, I won’t be put in a box, I won’t be cornered, I won’t be put in any position to not represent the interests of my constituents. Particularly when they are allegations that are being construed in such a way to preclude me from representing the people that I was elected to represent. I won’t bow down to that."
Perez's husband, Fernando Jara wrote a statement applauding her actions. He called Perez, "one of the most courageous elected leaders" he has "observed in a decade." Jara wrote her "decision today to speak so forcefully and honestly about the gravity of the potential Cannabis relationship to our community of veterans, children, and workforce -- and your refusal to work in a 'phony' process is a welcomed change to the 'dog and pony' cannabis shows currently in the media."
After Perez announced she will abstain from further marijuana votes, she said to the supervisors that she urges "this body to follow distinctly and directly the advice and the direction of the experts" who know and understand the process of regulating marijuana.
On Facebook, Perez wrote, “I will not be part of a process that does not rely on our county experts for direction, for there is too much at stake for our veterans, taxpayers, and children to give any credence to special interests. I am still hopeful that we can engage in an authentic process which could save our county, the lives of veterans, and support countless families in this County.”
The Kern County District Attorney is currently investigating all accusations of criminal activity against the Board of Supervisors. The investigation is ongoing.