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Key Official In California Toxics Department Steps Down

LOS ANGELES TIMES - LA NOW BLOG

The chief deputy director of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control has stepped down from her position and plans to retire at the end of the year, officials said Monday.

Odette Madriago, the No. 2 official at the agency, had been a target for consumer activists who alleged earlier this year that she had a conflict of interest because she had investments in companies-- such as Chevron -- that the agency regulates.

In April, the state ethics agency, the Fair Political Practices Commission, launched a formal probe, which is still ongoing. Toxics officials have said they see no evidence of impropriety in Madriago's financial dealings. On the contrary, agency officials said, Madriago properly declared her stocks.

On Friday, the department's director, Debbie Raphael, issued a bulletin praising Madriago's work and dedication to the agency. She also said that Madriago had "agreed to relinquish her position" as the department's second-in-command  for the remainder of her time at the agency. Instead, she will work on completing new consumer product regulations.

Liza Tucker of the Santa Monica group Consumer Watchdog hailed the decision, saying Madriago had been biased toward business.