Yesterday I reported the apparent cover-up by Lake Forest officials of suspected illegal activities by Councilwoman Kathy McCullough. A few months ago we reported that Mrs. McCullough’s lied to the Council chambers about her behavior while attending conferences at the City’s expense. Click here to review that article.
But lying is not illegal, and if it were, there would be no politicians.
In the course of investigating McCullough’s lies, I came upon what appeared to be illegal activities, and it was these activities which formed the basis of the 40+ page report I tried to get Lake Forest City officials to examine in order to confirm whether or not they were illegal. Here is an example of what appeared to be a violation of the City code, as well as violations of State law.
RIDING IN LIMOUSINES AT CITY EXPENSE
The Lake Forest “Expense Reimbursement and Travel Policy” was adopted in 1995 and updated at periodic intervals, most recently in 2010. On page 6 it says –
“Officials shall use the most economical mode and class of transportation…”
Mrs. McCullough goes to Sacramento several times a year where she attends meetings of the League of California Cities. To get from the airport to the hotel (Hyatt Regency), the Hyatt staff recommends using the “super shuttle” which is available by reservation at a cost is $13 each way. Apparently a $13 supper shuttle trip isn’t good enough for Mrs. McCullough. For example, in January 2012 (the first trip I looked at) McCullough took an “Execucar Sedan” at a cost of $105.20. She shared the car with then Councilwoman Rudolph, and they split the charges, each one billing the City for $52.60.
The picture above is from Execucar Sacramento, the service used by Mrs. McCullough
Apparently 3 people shared the car, and the third person rode for free, at the City’s expense. I assume the third person was her husband, but it really doesn’t matter whether it was her husband, son, friend, or whomever. The third person got a ride for free and the City paid for it. So not only did McCullough violate the City policy by not taking “the most economical mode of transportation”, she brought along a guest for free and the City apparently paid for it. It was the same thing for the next trip I examined (June 2012) only now the cost rose to $107.84, due mostly to a more generous tip this time. Once more 3 rode but only 2 paid, using City money.
According to the documents, on none of her trips to Sacramento did she use the super shuttle. Aside from the limo, McCullough used a taxi service which cost the City $45 each way, instead of the $13 required by the City policy. McCullough’s taxi rides are even more expensive than her limo rides, because she shared the costs of the limo with then Councilwoman Rudolph. But in each case she costs the City between 2 and 4 times what she was permitted to spend.
What are City officials doing riding around in limousines when they are required to take the most economical mode of transportation? And what are City staff doing when they approved these expenses?
This is merely one example of how it appears to me City funds are being mis-used by Councilwoman McCullough, not merely by taking more expensive transportation than is allowed, but also possibly using City funds to pay for her personal expenses (her husband’s transportation). In a single year the additional cost is about $100. No big deal, some will say. Over 20 years, the cost grows. As a single example, one might be tempted to ignore the apparent breach of the public trust and pass it over. But this is one of many examples, and next time I’ll provide more examples.