The State Worker

Embattled tax board to take on leadership, legal issues

Potential lawsuits and leadership changes are on the agenda for a special meeting that a California tax board called shortly after it faced tough questions from lawmakers over a recent audit of its spending.

The Board of Equalization added a meeting on Monday to its regular schedule after its executive director, David Gau, last week declined to answer questions at an Assembly hearing because of a potential lawsuit.

The special meeting has a short agenda of just two items, both of which are scheduled to take place in closed session.

One is to discuss potential litigation; the other is to discuss personnel matters.

The agency appointed Gau, who spent his career at the Board of Equalization, to be its executive director a year ago.

He followed Cynthia Bridges, who was ousted after an audit from the state controller said the agency misallocated $47.8 million in taxes. Bridges now works for board member Jerome Horton.

The audit from the Department of Finance said the agency has swelled spending on promotional events that have a “limited nexus” to its core mission, failed to explain how it corrected accounting deficiencies identified in the controller’s audit, and allowed elected board members to “redirect” civil servants to their own pet projects.

Horton in his response to the audit asserted that Gau failed to inform investigators about relevant polices, failed to turn over key documents and mismanaged data.

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton