Governor's Office Says It Will Monitor Travel More Closely

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The investigation by the Times found Department of Consumer Affairs Director Carrie Lopez flew from Sacramento to Los Angeles on the taxpayer’s dime to attend a Justin Timberlake concert with her daughter.  On an expense report she described it as a meeting with the company that paid for the concert tickets.  The Times also reported that Lopez charged the state for meals she received for free.  At a news conference about a new campaign to increase consumer awareness of fraud, she was asked about the allegations:

"Today’s not about me.  Today’s about the California consumers.”

Reporters pressed her – asking about the Timberlake concert specifically:

“I’m not here to answer the questions except about the campaign.”

Reporters who tried to approach her before the press conference were turned away.  Her office did release a statement in which Lopez said her job requires her to travel throughout the state.  She wasn’t the only appointee named in The Times.  Others include the Governor’s Appointments Secretary and the Secretary of The State and Consumer Services Agency.  Among the allegations is charging taxpayers for personal travel or commuting.  Schwarzenegger Press Secretary Aaron McLear says the Governor’s office is launching an investigation:

“We are going to check that out.  If it turns out that a few of the Governor’s 3,000 appointees have misused state resources we will absolutely deal with that.”

In addition, McLear says there will be more oversight in the future.  He says Cabinet Secretary Victoria Bradshaw will be reviewing the travel of those employees who are on the go a lot.   About a year ago, Governor Schwarzenegger issued an Executive Order that state agencies should cut non-essential travel because of the state’s dire financial situation. Schwarzenegger Press Secretary Aaron McLear says that Order has saved the state 100 million dollars since July.