Press-Enterprise: Two OC Politicos Double, Triple Dipping on Car Benefits

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Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson and Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido are among four Air Quality Management District (AQMD) board members double dipping – even triple dipping – on vehicle compensation from multiple public agencies, the Press-Enterprise reported on Friday. 

Nelson, Pulido and several AQMD board members drive hybrid, electric or natural gas cars provided by the district. Records show they also bill other governing agencies for transportation benefits, like mileage reimbursement and car allowances, according to the newspaper.

The Press-Enterprise reported that, in Pulido’s case, he receives a $500 monthly car allowance from the city, a free car from AQMD and also received $232 from the Orange County Transportation Authority for mileage reimbursement. 

From the article:

A review of public records found that the air district provides its governing board members free cars even though several are elected officials who are already compensated with public money for local travel with car allowances and mileage reimbursements.

The situation has raised concerns about potential abuse of privilege and a prompted call for reforms.

Benoit and nine other members of the regional smog-fighting agency’s 13-member governing board take home various hybrid, electric and natural gas vehicles.

Benoit and other board members who drive hybrids also get free gasoline. Once a year, they must account for personal miles driven so the district can calculate the cash value of those miles, which are reported to the IRS as a taxable benefit.

Currently, the district has assigned board members four Toyota Priuses, three Volts, a Nissan Leaf, a natural gas Honda Civic and, for Chairman Gerald Burke, an electric BMW Active E1.

This isn’t the first time a media outlet has reported on Pulido receiving vehicle compensation from more than one agency. Voice of OC in 2010 published an article revealing the mayor’s city car allowance and AQMD vehicle. 

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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