California's lawmakers passed the biggest gas-tax increase in state history back in April.
CBS2's David Goldstein uncovered that on the same day the tax passed, 11 charges for more than $400 in gasoline were racked up on state-issued credit cards assigned to both the Senate and the Assembly.
That's just a small amount of the tens of thousands of dollars in gas charges he discovered, but the Legislature doesn't want the public to know who's using those cards.
Kris Vosburgh with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association told Goldstein:
“It would be funny if it isn’t so painful. They are raising the gasoline tax 46 percent; they’re raising the car tax. Yet these folks don’t want to divulge how much it is that they’re spending on the free gasoline they get.”
Goldstein requested monthly statements from the state-issued gas cards assigned to the Legislature, but the statements have more redacted information than they do actual information.
The names of the people using the cards have been blacked out, and the locations where they filled up have also been blacked out.
Capitol record keepers cite a legislative public-records law, that says they don’t have to release “records pertaining to the name and location of recipients of automotive fuel or lubricants expenditures.”
Bob Stern, who wrote the California ethics law, is for the gas tax. But even he agrees that hiding how legislators spend taxpayer money is wrong:
“We need to have accountability. We need to know how much the legislators are spending on gasoline and other automobile expenses.”
Goldstein was at least able to uncover that lawmakers have 71 pool cars to use while in Sacramento on business and each one has a gas card assigned to it. Other cards are used for legislative business.
He found a total of more than $137,000 in charges from January 1, 2016 through April 2017. That's all funded by us taxpayers who are now going to pay more at the pump.
See, our lawmakers won't be affected by this bill one bit. In fact, they're rarely affected by any of the legislation they pass. They're out of touch and live in a fantasy land.