As testimony in the trial against Ray Nutting drew to a close Wednesday, a prosecutor repeatedly asked the El Dorado County supervisor whether he failed to disclose his state grant income because the information might have eroded support among his anti-government backers.
“That’s absolutely false,” Nutting replied more than once in the Placerville courtroom.
Throughout the politically charged case, prosecutors have consistently raised what they consider a contradiction: Nutting, who attends tea party events and campaigns for small government, has received tens of thousands of dollars from the state to clear brush from his ranch. According to their argument, that contradiction was Nutting’s motive for withholding the grant information from annual disclosure statements.
Nutting has maintained that he did not intentionally withhold the information, but simply made mistakes due to confusion about reporting requirements.
The county supervisor faces charges that he failed to describe that income on his political disclosure forms. Prosecutors also say that his board votes to fund two local fire districts were a conflict of interest and that he illegally borrowed money from county employees to post bail when he was arrested last year.
Nutting appeared mostly calm Wednesday as he responded to questions from county prosecutor James Clinchard during the final day of testimony in El Dorado Superior Court. He disputed the whole case against him.
“I have not violated any laws,” he said.
Nutting said he hardly concealed his participation in the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection grant program, which is intended to pay residents to remove fire risks surrounding their rural homes. To the contrary, he said, he wrote opinion articles promoting the grants in magazines and newspapers.
He also said residents were aware of his grant income because a political opponent had raised the issue in past campaigns. Nutting said his opponent claimed he had a conflict of interest while serving on the board, which he denied.
Prosecutors on Wednesday did not challenge Nutting’s assertions about his past public statements about the grants.
Closing arguments are expected Thursday morning before jurors begin deliberations.
Call The Bee’s Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @BradB_at_SacBee.