Lawmakers bought cars fixed by California

Phasing-out perk prompted run on repairs, upgrades
By: Don Thompson, Associated Press
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Lawmakers' vehicle repairs at a glance

The Associated Press


This is a list of repairs requested by lawmakers in the final months before the state was forced to end a one of its kind perk that provided vehicles to state lawmakers at taxpayer expense. Of the 64 lawmakers who had state-financed repairs, 36 then bought their vehicles.

State senator State-provided vehicleState's purchase priceState's sale priceCost of repairsExamples of repairs

  • Joel Anderson, R-La Mesa 2011 Buick LaCrosse$38,688$26,000$200Oil and filter changes.
  • Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto 2006 Lexus 400 Hybrid$57,334$14,521$1,942Four new tires, clean fuel injection system.
  • Ron Calderon, D-Montebello 2006 Cadillac STS$54,830$14,500$542Special order two vogue type wheel center caps.
  • Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro 2007 Toyota Prius$28,954$7,000$2,03755 point inspection, update vehicle's GPS system.
  • Lou Correa, D-Anaheim 2007 Toyota Prius$29,572$10,500$43Replace air filter and wiper blade.
  • Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid$34,635$9,500$1,081Four new tires.
  • Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga 2005 Chevy Tahoe$40,592$11,000$5,984Four new tires, fix power steering. brakes, differential, repair dent in bumper, detail inside and out.
  • Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid$24,412$12,600$499Inspect and replace gaskets, air filter.
  • Ed Hernandez, D-Baldwin Park 2011 Buick LaCrosse$38,371$26,000$50Oil change.
  • Mark Leno, D-San Francisco 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid$31,974$15,000$999Four new tires.
  • Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid$34,366$8,500$651Replace battery filter, inoperable seat belt.
  • Gloria Negrete-McLeod, D-Chino 2007 Toyota Prius$29,286$10,500$861Four new tires, replace battery in key fob, replace windshield wipers.
  • Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid$37,735$12,500$588Replace brake pads, air filter, wiper blades.
  • Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid$31,785$15,000$597Vehicle inspection, replace filters, oil, rotate tires.
  • Curren Price, D-Los Angeles 2010 Buick LaCrosse$35,833$21,550$650Two new tires.
  • Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid$34,287$12,000$947Four new tires, flat repair, brake inspection.
  • Lois Wolk, D-Davis 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid$31,980$14,500$972Four new tires, windshield repaired, change wiper blades.
  • Rod Wright, D-Inglewood 2005 Cadillac XLR Roadster$34,541$23,000$4,751Four new tires, 36-month road hazard protection plan, repair brakes, electronic suspension.
  • State Assembly member State-provided vehicleState's purchase priceState's sale priceCost of repairs
  • Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid$37,269$17,000$172Oil and filter changes.
  • Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid$32,978$11,425$205Oil and filter changes.
  • Jim Beall, D-San Jose 2007 Chevy Impala$31,729$6,025$660Windshield repaired and replaced, smog inspection.
  • Bill Berryhill, D-Stockton 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid$37,667$12,525$254Replace hatchback latch.
  • Bob Blumenfield, D-Sherman Oaks 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid$35,685$14,000$85Oil and filter changes.
  • Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica 2007 Toyota Prius$31,675$10,525$578Two new tires, oil and filter changes.
  • Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid$31,883$11,025$823Four new tires.
  • Charles Calderon, D-Whittier 2007 Lincoln Towncar$35,665$10,000$640"The works" maintenance package.
  • Wilmer Carter, D-Rialto 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid$33,464$12,000$963Four new tires.
  • Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles 2011 Buick LaCrosse CXS$37,167$23,000$92Oil and filter change.
  • Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata 2009 Toyota Prius$41,495$15,725$48Oil and filter change.
  • Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid$34,479$7,000$1,592Four new tires, repair exhaust leak.
  • Connie Conway, R-Tulare 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid$48,462$22,525$1,520Four new tires.
  • Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles 2005 Lincoln Town Car$31,188$31,188$753"Gold maintenance" and "the works" maintenance.
  • Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park 2004 Toyota Prius$28,321$5,025$362Replace battery, oil and filter.
  • Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles 2007 Toyota Prius$30,461$9,000$935Replace tire, battery, adjust brakes, clean throttle, engine filter.
  • Nathan Fletcher, I-San Diego 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid$40,408$13,750$741Three new tires, towing charges.
  • Paul Fong, D-Cupertino 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD$35,376$10,525$688Two new tires.
  • Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar 2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid$29,956$10,025$576Throttle service, brake fluid, replace air filter, rotate and balance tires.
  • Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton 2011 Ford Mustang$24,657$14,700$73Oil change, flat repair.
  • Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid$32,848$17,500$107Oil and filter changes.
  • Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park 2011 Nissan Altima Hybrid$31,512$15,800$161Oil and filter changes.
  • Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid$40,723$14,225$520Four new tires.
  • Isadore Hall, D-Compton 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid$48,500$19,000$2,442Four new tires, change power steering and transmission fluid, flush cooling and fuel injection systems.
  • Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid$46,007$21,025$386Flat repair, alignment.
  • Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid$32,439$11,000$524Oil and filter changes, fix check engine light.
  • Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid$33,436;$7,500$1,035Four new tires.
  • Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore 2007 Dodge Nitro 4x4$28,943$7,025$1,467Four new tires, fix air conditioner.
  • Brian Jones, R-Santee 2008 Chrysler Aspen$39,530Not sold; kept for Assembly fleet$1,069Two new tires, replace brake light, pads.
  • Steve Knight, R-Lancaster 2009 Ford Fusion SEL$25,542$8,000$837Four new tires, battery replaced.
  • Dan Logue, R-Linda 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid$48,499$14,200$792Three new tires.
  • Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid$34,982$13,525$440Replace battery filter, wiper blades, 30,000 mile maintenance.
  • Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Ltd 4WD$44,000$15,025$2,606Four new tires, filters, oil pan, tail light, multi-point inspection.
  • Jeff Miller, R-Corona 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid$47,802$20,000$1,440Four new tires, replace wiper inserts, transmission fluid.
  • William Monning, D-Monterey 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid$33,059$7,425$703Replace water pump, drive belt, tire repair.
  • Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber 2009 Ford Edge Pickup$39,950$11,525$1,640Five new tires, flush fuel injectors, 90,000 mile service.
  • Chris Norby, R-Fullerton 2010 Ford Flex SEL$32,500$17,500$595Two new tires.
  • Kristen Olsen, R-Modesto 2011 Ford Escape$32,499$17,500$156Oil and filter changes.
  • Manuel Perez, D-Coachella 2008 GMC Acadia$32,500$11,125$5,998Four new tires, replace air conditioner, water pump, rear shocks, reseal engine.
  • Jim Silva, R-Sunset Beach 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid$39,645$14,025$698Four new tires.
  • Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley 2009 Toyota Prius$28,507$10,000$540Two new tires, change oil and filters.
  • Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita 2010 Chevrolet Traverse$36,052$16,225$250Multi-point inspection, smog check.
  • Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid$29,730$11,000$660New battery, repair tire, replace brake and transmission fluid.
  • Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid$33,636$7,025$80Oil and filter change.
  • Norma Torres, D-Pomona 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid$38,612Not sold; kept for Assembly fleet$957Four new tires.
  • Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont 2011 Subaru Outback$31,950$21,000$705Windshield, oil, filters replaced.
  • *According to California Department of Motor Vehicles because lawmaker declined to comment.Sources: Assembly and Senate rules committees; individual lawmakers' offices.


SACRAMENTO — At least a dozen California lawmakers repaired or upgraded their state-provided vehicles at taxpayers' expense in the final weeks before the one-of-its-kind perk was ending, then later bought those vehicles for personal use.

The improvements ranged from cosmetic changes such as fixing dents and replacing wheel covers, to getting tires, multipoint inspections and new parts such as fuel pumps that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Some had the vehicles they would soon buy inspected at no cost to them, while others had last-minute work done under warranty, according to state maintenance records obtained by The Associated Press through public records requests.

Officials at the state Senate and Assembly said they did not ask lawmakers to have their vehicles repaired or upgraded before the state put them up for sale to independent dealers a year ago.

"Essentially what they did was get all their repairs done on the state's dime before they bought it," said Philip Ung, a spokesman for the government watchdog group Common Cause.

The sale was the last step in ending a program dating to the 1950s that had been criticized as an unreasonable benefit for legislators who in recent years have slashed the state's social services safety net to stem billion-dollar budget deficits.

The AP has previously reported on various aspects of the perk, including that the Legislature had spent $5 million for one year's fleet and refused to publicly release the mileage or where the lawmakers drove the vehicles.

California was the only state that provided vehicles to its rank-and-file lawmakers for unlimited use, until the state Citizens Compensation Commission voted in April 2011 to do away with the benefit. Legislators were told to turn in their vehicles by Dec. 1, 2011.

Of 64 lawmakers who had state-financed repairs after the commission's decision, 37 purchased their vehicles. That includes 16 of 18 senators and 21 of 46 Assembly members.

Many sought routine maintenance, such as oil changes, that accounted for a portion of the more than $78,000 the state spent to repair, clean and upgrade the state-provided vehicles in the final nine months of the program.

Others did much more shortly before the sale, according to the documents. The AP also paid for records from the Department of Motor Vehicles to help determine which lawmakers had bought their vehicles.

Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, had $5,984 worth of repairs. He had a dent in the rear bumper fixed, the power steering and brakes replaced, and a detailed cleaning performed on a 2005 Chevy Tahoe between August and November 2011.

Much of the work was done seven weeks before the vehicle was sold to a dealer for $11,000 in December. The former Senate minority leader bought it for $12,681 in campaign funds as he prepared to leave office for an unsuccessful bid for Congress this year.

Gary Winuk, chief of the Fair Political Practices Commission's Enforcement Division, said Dutton's use of campaign money raises legal issues because the vehicle was re-registered to Dutton as an individual instead of to his campaign committee.

Dutton said he thought he acted legally because the money was intended to cover his expenses as a state lawmaker. He said he saved taxpayers money in the long run by driving a used vehicle.

He said a lot of work had to be done on the vehicle because it was closing in on 100,000 miles. Since he bought it, Dutton added, he has had to make significant repairs, including fixing the transmission and speedometer.

Among those whose cars had large bills were two Democratic assemblymen, Tony Mendoza of Artesia and Isadore Hall of Compton.

Mendoza charged taxpayers for nearly $2,300 worth of repairs to his 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid in the final two months the state owned it. That included more than $1,200 for four new tires, an oil change and a "multi-point inspection" about a month before he bought it.

Hall had the state pay for $2,442 worth of work on his 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, including new tires and a cooling system flush, before he bought it. Nearly $1,700 of the work was done in the final month the state owned it.

Other lawmakers took their vehicles into the shop just days before they were required to turn them in.

Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, had a "55 point vehicle inspection" on her 2007 Toyota Prius Hybrid just three days before she was to surrender the vehicle she later bought. The $827 billed to taxpayers that day also included a new water pump, drive belt and update to the vehicle's GPS system.

Twenty-five days before his 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid was sold, Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, replaced two tires, the windshield wipers and the automatic transmission fluid at a cost to taxpayers of $887.

Mendoza, Hall and Miller did not respond to repeated requests from AP for comment, while Corbett declined comment.

Democratic Sen. Ron Calderon of Monterey Park special ordered "2 vogue type wheel center caps" for $80, among other late maintenance that cost taxpayers more than $500. His spokesman, Rocky Rushing, said the work on the 2006 Cadillac "was necessary or scheduled maintenance."

"They wanted to frontload all the maintenance and repairs," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "This was another example of 'let's make the taxpayers carry the freight on this.'"