Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce was publicly condemned by her colleagues for violating Long Beach’s code of ethics — a rare move that had not been done in 25 years, it was reported Wednesday.
The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to censure Pearce because of a series of scandals that came to light after a late-night dispute last summer between Pearce and her former chief of staff, Devon Cotter, on the side of the 710 freeway, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported. A subsequent police investigation revealed the two had been dating for three years.
Pearce did not vote Tuesday night, according to the Press-Telegram.
“I’m sorry for my actions,” Pearce said in a prepared statement during the meeting. “Hopefully, with the censure, we can move forward.”
The last time the council censured one of its own was in 1993, after then-Councilman Douglas S. Drummond made inflammatory, anti-gay comments at the height of the HIV-AIDS epidemic, the Press-Telegram reported.
The move to censure Pearce, who represents District 2 in the southern portion of the city, came from four of her colleagues: Councilmembers Al Austin, Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw and Dee Andrews.
The city’s code of ethics requires officials to avoid conflicts of interest, adhere to all laws and regulations and “exercise prudence and good judgment at all times.” Pearce, in having a relationship with a subordinate, also violated Long Beach’s sexual harassment policy and, because of a domestic violence investigation after the 710 dispute, put the Police Department’s integrity at risk, with many alleging preferential treatment for the councilwoman.
“Given the information that has been made publicly available to this City Council,” the staff report for the censure said, according to the Press-telegram, “the actions by Councilmember Pearce did not adhere to the city’s code of ethics.”
Pearce and Cotter dated for about three years; the relationship, documents show, began before the councilwoman hired Cotter in July 2016, according to the newspaper.