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An audit of the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. states that the agency’s office lease constitutes a conflict of interest because the agency is renting the building from a developer that has contracted with SEDC on development projects.

That developer, Pacific Development Partners, is the same company that has been at the center of a related controversy over former SEDC board chairman Artie M. “Chip” Owen’s ties to the company.

SEDC paid PDP $174,917 in rent payments in fiscal year 2007-2008. The developer built Imperial Marketplace, a mixed-use project on Imperial Avenue that houses SEDC’s offices.

Owen has reported on his statements of economic interest receiving between $10,000 and $100,000 a year in deferred commissions from PDP for a deal he said he brokered in 2002, before he joined the SEDC board in 2003.

City Attorney Mike Aguirre opined in July that Owen’s financial ties to PDP violated the state’s conflict of interest law because, at the same time Owen has sat on the board, PDP has been awarded a development agreement by SEDC.

Owen’s relationship with PDP is also something SEDC board members were questioned about by FBI agents recently.

WILL CARLESS

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