MWD Names Abel Salinas, former U.S. Department of Labor Investigator, as New Ethics Officer

By on July 21, 2019

A former U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Investigator, Abel Salinas, was recently named as the new ethics officer for the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California. Salinas spent two decades the U.S. DOL where he led a variety of investigations. Salinas succeeds MWD General Auditor Gerald Riss, who has been serving as acting ethics officer.

“Metropolitan’s ethics office has an integral role in ensuring our agency is transparent in its actions, operates with integrity and upholds high ethical standards,” said MWD Chairwoman Gloria Gray. “We look forward to working with Mr. Salinas and also thank Mr. Riss for his leadership during our time of transition.”

Prior to joining MWD, Salinas worked as the Special Agent in Charge in the U.S. DOL’s Office of Inspector General. Based out of the agency’s Los Angeles Regional Office, Salinas led investigative personnel in multi-state offices, developed policy, and investigated public officials, government employees, contractors, educational institutions, businesses, and non-profit organizations for any federal and state law violations, including ethical concerns.

Salinas’ contract to head the water district’s ethics office was approved by the MWD Board of Directors. The MWD ethics officer reports directly to the board of directors and Salinas began his new position last week.

In his new role Salinas and the ethics office are responsible for fostering and supporting an ethical culture among MWD directors, managers and staff. The ethics office is charged with making recommendations regarding rules and policies related to lobbying, conflicts of interest, contracts, campaign contributions and internal disclosures, while providing education and advice about these rules. Salinas will also lead the ethics office in investigating alleged violations and help ensure MWD’s directors, managers and staff are in compliance with MWD’s and state ethics rules.

The ethics office operates as an independent entity. It is responsible to protects employees filing complaints, the confidentiality of sources and the due-process rights of those accused of violating MWD’s own ethics rules.

Prior to his two decades with the U.S. DOL Salinas served for three years in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Salinas holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from University of Texas – Pan American and a master’s degree in policy management from Georgetown University.