California News

California lawmakers bought cars fixed with state funds

Thursday, December 06, 2012

A new report shows at least a dozen California lawmakers made expensive repairs on state-issued vehicles at taxpayers' expense, just before purchasing them for personal use.

Several Southland lawmakers were named in the report. Some had oil changes or inspections done while others had dents fixed or new tires put on.

Senate and Assembly officials said they did not ask lawmakers to have their vehicles repaired or upgraded before the state put them up for sale to independent dealers a year ago.

"Essentially what they did was get all their repairs done on the state's dime before they bought it," said Philip Ung, a spokesman for the government watchdog group Common Cause.

The sale was the last step in ending a program that had been criticized as an unreasonable benefit for legislators.

The State Fair Political Practices Commission does not believe any laws were broken, but the commission is going to look into the repairs and purchases. This could lead to a formal investigation.

"We're going to review it and take a look at it. The only thing that jumps out is potentially using campaign funds for a vehicle and not registering it for the campaign," said Gary Winuk with the commission.

Rancho Cucamonga Sen. Bob Dutton, who purchased his car with campaign funds, had about $6,000 in repairs done.

Dutton says he thought he acted legally, because the money was intended to cover his expenses.

Also listed in the report were Artesia Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, Compton Assemblyman Isadore Hall, Corona Assemblyman Jeff Miller and Monterey Park Sen. Ron Calderon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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