AP: Lawmakers got fixes then bought cars

7:13 PM, Dec 5, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - At least a dozen California lawmakers repaired or upgraded their state-provided vehicles at taxpayers' expense in the final weeks before the one-of-its-kind perk was ending, then later bought those vehicles for personal use.         

They ranged from cosmetic changes to billing the state thousands of dollars for fresh tires, multipoint inspections and new parts.        

Maintenance records obtained by The Associated Press show some had the vehicles they would soon buy inspected at no cost to them, while others had last-minute work done under warranty

"When voters see this kind of behavior," Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President John Coupal said. "They realize legislators are in a position to game the system."

Senate and Assembly officials said lawmakers took it upon themselves to have their vehicles repaired or upgraded before the state sold them a year ago.

The Associated Press said 64 lawmakers had work done; 37 of them bought the cars.

A breakdown of Sacramento's local lawmakers:

Lawmaker       State-provided vehicle   State's purchase price    State's sale price     Cost of repairs    Examples of repairs
State Senator          
Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto  2006 Lexus 400 Hybrid          $57,334                 $14,521              $1,942        Four new tires, clean fuel injection system.
Lois Wolk, D-Davis        2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid    $31,980               $14,500            $972       Four new tires, windshield repaired, change wiper blades.
State Assembly member          
Bill Berryhill, D-Stockton 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid    $37,667               $12,525            $254       Replace hatchback latch.
Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton  2011 Ford Mustang               $24,657                  $14,700               $73           Oil change, flat repair.
Dan Logue, R-Linda        2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid $48,499                 $14,200              $792         Three new tires.
Kristen Olsen, R-Modesto  2011 Ford Escape               $32,499                $17,500             $156        Oil and filter changes.

"As long as the cars were still in the possession of the legislature when they made the repairs while they were doing them for sale," California Fair Political Practices spokesperson Gary Winuk said. "Then that should be okay,"

So far, the FPPC doesn't think any laws were broken. But if anything is amiss, it could lead to a formal investigation.

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

The repairs tallied more than $78,000 dollars.

"This doesn't seem like a lot," Coupal said. "But it sends a very bad signal. We should be holding our elected officials to a higher standard of conduct."

News10 reached out to the lawmakers and they either did not respond or did not comment.

The Associated Press and News10/KXTV

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