Xavier Becerra, the California AG who charged the Center for Medical Progress with 15 felony counts for its undercover reporting on Planned Parenthood, will not be opening an investigation into the millions of dollars kept hidden by UC President Janet Napolitano.
An audit, which I wrote about here last month, found that Napolitano’s office amassed $175 million in reserve funds by repeatedly overestimating costs and then spending less than it claimed was needed. Meanwhile, the office was also paying salaries significantly higher than comparable workers in state government and covering lavish travel expenses.
When the auditor asked school administrators at the UC system’s 10 campuses what the Office of the President was giving them for all of this money, one of Janet Napolitano’s deputies interceded and tweaked the survey responses to make the office look much better than it was. The interference was so egregious that the auditor determined the adjusted responses could not be used to draw any conclusions.
Despite all of this, Becerra doesn’t see any reason to open an investigation. As NBC News reports, that may be because the people he would need to interview and potentially hold accountable are political allies, including Governor Jerry Brown:
Any formal investigation of the office of the UC president would likely involve questioning of the UC Regents who are responsible for fiscal oversight of the University. Many members of the board are political allies of the Attorney General including Richard Bloom, the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Governor Jerry Brown, who appointed Becerra to his current office, as well as Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
Becerra said politics was not a consideration.
“I will go after any entity that is taking advantage of the California public,” he stated.
So what about the students who paid excessive tuition and fees so Napolitano’s office could amass a multi-million slush fund and pay for $300 a night hotels? What about the 10 executives who, according to the LA Times, were paid “over $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest paid state employee counterparts.” Finally, what about the fact that the UC system has half the students of the CSU system but more than 3 times as many administrators and 6 1/2 times the annual?
They whole thing stinks of government bloat and mismanagement, but an ambitious AG like Becerra doesn’t want to embarrass any allies as he gears up to run for the Senate (he’s rumored to be eyeing Feinstein’s seat if she retires). And yet Becerra has the nerve to claim he’ll go after anyone wasting Californians’ money. Maybe he needs to spend less time focused on Washington, DC and more time on problems at home.