The State Worker

State opens nepotism investigation at troubled tax board

Betty Yee says tax board members spend public funds to promote themselves

State Controller Betty Yee, at a Dec. 14, 2016 Board of Equalization meeting, said elected tax board members are using public employees to promote themselves in their districts.
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State Controller Betty Yee, at a Dec. 14, 2016 Board of Equalization meeting, said elected tax board members are using public employees to promote themselves in their districts.

The California tax board Gov. Jerry Brown sanctioned last week is now facing an expanded investigation into alleged nepotism in its workforce.

Board of Equalization managers must respond by Wednesday to a survey seeking information about employees who are related to other workers at the tax-collecting agency, which has 4,800 workers.

Board of Equalization Executive Director David Gau wrote in a message on Monday to the agency’s leaders that the information will be used for a State Personnel Board investigation.

He indicated that the survey was an expansion of an audit that the personnel board had already launched.

“In order to determine the actual prevalence of familial relationships at the BOE, the State Personnel Board has directed BOE to survey the entire department to identify all family members working at BOE, including where they work,” Gau wrote.

Brown last week asked the state attorney general’s office to investigate the tax board and issued orders curtailing the agency’s ability to hire and spend money without approval from his administration.

The Board of Equalization, which collects about $60 billion a year in taxes and fees, is also facing scrutiny from the Legislature in the wake of an audit that suggested it could not explain key accounting decisions and that it misused civil servants for events that promoted its elected members.

The board convened in a closed-session meeting to discuss lawsuits and personnel changes on Monday but did not report any decisions. Officials from the agency next are expected to appear before a Senate budget subcommittee on Thursday.

At an April 6, 2017 Assembly budget hearing, Phil Ting of San Francisco said he had "zero faith" that California's Board of Equalization can correct misuses of public resources that a recent audit identified.

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton

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