By Don Thompson, Associated Press
Posted: 12/05/2012 12:02:09 PM PST
Updated: 12/05/2012 12:08:55 PM PST
Related story: List of California lawmakers who had cars repaired by taxpayers
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)- At least a dozen California lawmakers, including Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, 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.
The improvements ranged from cosmetic changes such as fixing dents and replacing wheel covers, to getting tires, multipoint inspections and new parts such as fuel pumps that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Dutton had $5,984 worth of repairs. He had a dent in the rear bumper fixed, the power steering and brakes replaced, and a detailed cleaning performed on a 2005 Chevy Tahoe between August and November 2011.
Much of the work was done seven weeks before the vehicle was sold to a dealer for $11,000 in December. The former Senate minority leader bought it for $12,681 in campaign funds as he prepared to leave office for an unsuccessful bid for Congress this year.
Gary Winuk, chief of the Fair Political Practices Commission’s Enforcement Division, said Dutton’s use of campaign money raises legal issues because the vehicle was re-registered to Dutton as an individual instead of to his campaign committee.
Dutton said he thought he acted legally because the money was intended to cover his expenses as a state lawmaker. He said he saved taxpayers money in the long run by driving a used vehicle.
He said a lot of work had to be done on the vehicle because it was closing in on 100,000 miles. Since he bought it, Dutton added, he has had to make significant repairs, including fixing the transmission and speedometer.
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