California ethics agency looks at former state senator's car purchase
The state's ethics watchdog is looking into whether former state Sen. Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) violated the law by using political funds to buy a car for himself that was formerly owned by the state.
Gary Winuk, chief of enforcement for the Fair Political Practices Commission, sent a letter to Dutton asking for information on the use of $12,681 in political officeholder funds, raised from campaign supporters, to buy a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe that was registered in his name.
The car was owned by the state before the perk was taken away and the state auctioned the cars off to dealers. Many lawmakers purchased their old vehicles from the dealers who bought them. In Dutton's case, he purchased it from Maita Toyota, his campaign statements show.
"We are reviewing it,'' Winuk said, adding his office is "considering whether or not to open a formal investigation.''
The FPPC learned about the Dutton purchase from a report published Wednesday by the Associated Press that said at least a dozen legislators, including Dutton, had the state repair their cars before they bought them from dealers, who acquired them at state auctions.
The AP reported that Dutton's SUV had almost $6,000 worth of repairs done at taxpayer expense before he purchased it in 2011. Dutton told the news service that he consulted with attorneys before using the political officeholder account funds and thought it was OK because the car was used for officeholder purposes.
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Former Sen. Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) in May. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press