Santa Monica, CA -- After a complaint by Consumer Watchdog to the state about investments made in companies she regulates, Odette Madriago, chief deputy director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), has stepped down from her position and will retire at the end of the year, the group has learned.
Consumer Watchdog brought a complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) that Ms. Madriago and another deputy director at the department, Stuart Black, had a financial conflict of interest because of up to six and seven figure investments in companies such as Chevron that the DTSC regulates or permits. The group had called on Governor Jerry Brown to fire these regulators. The FPPC announced a formal investigation into Odette Madriago at the beginning of April.
“Odette Madriago was a source of dysfunction at the DTSC and a symbol of regulators captured by the industry they regulate," said consumer advocate Liza Tucker. “But now the culture needs to change.” A six-month study of the department by Tucker, called Golden Wasteland, described Madriago as biased toward business and meddling in the department to prevent tough regulation and enforcement.
See study here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/golden-wasteland-report
Tucker said now the Director of the DTSC, Debbie Raphael, must take the rest of the steps needed to reform the department. “The DTSC has to show consumers that it is really protecting them and the environment from toxic harm,” she said. “This department has a long way to go to prove to show the public they aren’t the ones holding the bag when serial polluters cost them their health by not cleaning up their toxic messes.”
Among the steps Consumer Watchdog says the department must take are:
- Revoking the permits of serial toxic polluters
- Demanding that companies show proof of ability to pay for any corrective action the department orders
- Denying permits to companies that have not completed ordered corrective action
- Decreasing administrative positions and increasing enforcement positions
- 30 -