California’s career politicians are already scrambling for new jobs in the upcoming 2014 elections. One office that is often overlooked is the the State Board of Equalization (BOE), a public agency charged with tax administration and fee collection in the state of California in the United States.
The areas of authority of the Board fall into four broad areas: sales and use taxes, property taxes, special taxes, and acting as an appellate body for franchise and income tax appeals (which are collected by the Franchise Tax Board). The BOE is the only publicly elected tax commission in the United States.
The BOE Directors are elected by district. There are four districts. Here in Orange County we are represented in the Third District, by Michelle Steel, a Korean-American leader in the California Republican Party. She is going to term out and will be running for the seat currently held by Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.
The BOE Members are paid $123,965, according to the California Citizens Compensation Commission. But that is only part of the story. They each have a gigantic staff – and they pay their employees very well.
The obvious allure of running for Steel’s seat on the BOE is the chance to be an elected state official and the opportunity to hire a lot of your friends, colleagues and backers.
Perhaps that is why there are already so many announced candidates for the BOE’s third district, which includes the following counties: Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, a portion of Los Angeles, and a portion of San Bernardino. Candidates already running include:
- State Senator Lou Correa, who has already held a fundraiser for his BOE race.
- Assemblywoman Diane Harkey
- State Senator Tom Harman
- State Senator Mark Wyland
But who else might consider running for the BOE’s Third District?
Don’t laugh, but Irvine Council Member Beth Krom ought to consider running. She is well known in Orange County and is supported by at least some Republicans who were opposed to the El Toro Airport. She enjoys broad support in the Democratic Party and is well known in Sacramento and in DC. She is also quite capable of raising campaign funds. She was the top vote-getter in the 2012 Irvine Council elections. There are quite a few Democratic leaders in Orange County who don’t like Correa because he is a moderate – they will support Krom who is by far more liberal. And there don’t appear to be any other Democratic women in the race – yet.
Krom has already lost badly in a congressional race – and she told me recently in an email that she is not going to run for the State Assembly in 2014. But she ought to think about running for the BOE. Imagine how many of her pals she might be able to hire for those nine BOE offices?
If Krom were to win, that would be great news for the Republicans who now control the Irvine City Council as they could then replace her with another Republican – perhaps former Council candidate Lynn Schott or City Finance Commissioner Allan Bartlett?
Could anyone else run a credible campaign for the BOE’s Third District? Sure. Harkey and Harman are hardly the most popular Republicans in Orange County. Supervisor Moorlach is currently flirting with the idea of running for Governor, but he could definitely run a solid campaign for the BOE’s Third District. I think he should do that and then run later for State Controller. That would offer a better pathway to the Governor’s Mansion.
Former State Assemblyman Chris Norby would not be a good candidate as he is not good at raising campaign funds. Former State Senator Dick Ackerman could probably run, but he has been out of office now for awhile and he is getting old. I don’t see him being all that inspired to do this.
The BOE’s Third District is huge. Rest assured that there will be more candidates filing before this is over. And now you know why. This might be a somewhat obscure office but the rewards are great.