The state Fair Political Practices Commission unanimously voted yesterday to prohibit the types of trips that county Supervisor Ron Roberts has been taking to China.

Roberts has traveled to China six times on trips funded by the San Diego World Trade Center, a nonprofit group to which the supervisor has directed at least $854,000 in taxpayer-funded grants. The trips that Roberts took had been clearly — and quietly — earmarked for him.

State law prohibits giving elected officials gifts valued above $390, a prohibition designed to reduce the influence of money in politics. But the law previously had an exemption: Nonprofit groups such as the trade center could give a gift to a government agency — so long as the agency chose which elected official should accept it.

No longer. The change will be effective July 1.

The commission made it illegal for a long list of public officials to accept travel, including statewide elected officials, judges, state commission members, county supervisors, city council members, county counsels, county (and city) treasurers, city attorneys and chief administrative officers.


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