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Gov. Jerry Brown expands auditor powers in wake of Bell scandal

October 4, 2011 |  2:31 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday gave the state auditor broad new powers to investigate the misuse of taxpayer funds by cities and counties, signing legislation in response to the city of Bell financial scandal.

The measure by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) allows the auditor to independently launch an examination of local government agencies, including special districts,  to determine whether they are at risk of fraud, waste or mismanagement.

The state auditor has a program to identify government programs with a high risk of fraud or waste, but the law has limited it  to state agencies. The auditor can only investigate the finances of local agencies if directed to by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, as the panel did recently for the city of Vernon.

"Through this measure we are creating accountability and ensuring that taxpayers are not left holding the bag, “ Lara said.

AB 187 takes effect Jan. 1.

-- Patrick McGreevy