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California Agency Defends Top Officials, Says Inquiry Almost Complete

— The California Department of Toxic Substance Control says it is close to wrapping up an internal inquiry that focuses on two key officials.

Jeremy Brooks

Aired 3/8/13 on KPBS News.

The California Department of Toxic Substance Control says it is close to wrapping up an internal inquiry that focuses on two key officials.

Consumer Watchdog is accusing the officials of having serious conflicts of interest. Chief Deputy Director Odette Madriago and Deputy Director Stewart Black are under fire for investments they disclosed on state forms.

Consumer Watchdog said the pair invested heavily in oil and chemical companies. The group said those firms rely on the state agency for permits, regulatory guidance, or for corrective action to fix violations of state rules. The investments are clear conflicts of interest, according to Consumer Watchdog, and the group called for the pair to be fired.

The Department of Toxic Substance Control offered a prepared statement that said an inquiry into the situation is about to be finished. The statement said the probe uncovered no impropriety or evidence that laws have been broken.

The department said investments are permitted under state law, but those investments must be reported. They were, according to the agency. The department promised to share results of their probe soon.

The agency did not make itself available for questions.

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