John McMahon

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon speaks during a sit-down interview at the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department Headquarters in San Bernardino on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. According to recently released data, McMahon was the highest paid elected official in California during 2013. File Photo

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 01/03/15, 5:27 PM PST |

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon topped the list of highest paid elected officials in California in 2013, according to recently released data by the state Controller’s Office,

A onetime payment of $121,579 for accrued vacation and sick time that McMahon cashed out after being appointed sheriff by the Board of Supervisors in December 2012 catapulted him to the top of state Controller John Chiang’s list.

Coupled with his base salary of $225,499, McMahon’s total income for 2013 was $363,986, according to the Controller’s Office.

McMahon took office as San Bernardino County sheriff in January 2013, and he was subsequently elected sheriff for four more years in the June primary.

The Board of Supervisors appointed McMahon sheriff following the abrupt departure of Sheriff Rod Hoops, who announced he was retiring in November 2012 to take another job with the Washington, D.C., law-enforcement think tank Police Foundation, headed by retired Redlands Police Chief Jim Bueermann.

Prior to becoming sheriff, McMahon was an assistant sheriff with nearly 30 years of accrued vacation and sick time he never used while ascending the ranks from patrol deputy to the sheriff’s executive staff.

“That’s 28 years of leave banks, and I was not a big user of sick leave or vacation time in my career,” McMahon said. “I think I used 2 hours of sick leave in my career.”

McMahon attributes his lack of sick time to being in the gym five days a week and “being blessed with good genes.”

“I have a pretty good track record of being healthy,” said McMahon, 51.

In a news release last month, Chiang, in an effort to make public finance information more readily available to taxpayers, announced two new websites:, which provides information on public employee pay and benefits, and, which assists taxpayers in tracking every dollar raised under Proposition 30, a sales and income tax increase initiative approved by voters in 2012 that is supposed to benefit public schools.

On the list of top-earning public officials, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca came in at number two with $347,786 in total wages in 2013, followed by San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector Larry Walker with $325,245.

The Board of Supervisors in 2010 approved a merger of the Treasurer/Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller offices in an effort to save the county between $500,000 and $1 million a year.

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