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Mar 03, 2009 - 02:00 PM

Arnold's staff taking free trips on us

by Mark Reback
 
The Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend that several top members of Arnold's staff charged California taxpayers thousands in airfare, hotel and meal costs with little oversight, and some without any documentation.

In one of the worst examples, Carrie Lopez, director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, flew from Sacramento, where she works, to Los Angeles, where she lives, to attend a Justin Timberlake concert with her daughter, and then listed the trip on her expense report as a meeting with the energy company that paid for the concert tickets, so she could stick us with the bill. Lopez apparently also billed us for meals on days she received those meals for free from corporations.

It also seems that these expense reports were sometimes approved by subordinates, and many of the costs were incurred after Arnold issued an executive order last year that state agencies avoid all nonessential travel due to California's fiscal emergency. State law allows employees to charge taxpayers only for "activities on behalf of the public, which do not include commuting or events related to their personal lives."

As California has slashed social services and scrambled to pay the state's bills, why should Arnold's staff get to skirt the law and continue to commute from SoCal to Sacramento, or take free pleasure trips and stick us with the bill?




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