After Voice of OC published the story of Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido and his double-dose of health insurance plans and car reimbursements readers started pointing fingers at a slew of officials they thought might be doing the same.
One prominent lawmaker who came up was County Supervisor Bill Campbell, who most remember was driving an electric Mini Cooper around last year.
Cambpell said their memory is right. He did drive the car for about five months, courtesy of the Southern California Air Quality Management District where he serves as a board member.
“I probably drove it from August to November,” Campbell said.
But he also paid the District $600 to cover the miles he drove. Campbell said he did so because he receives a $700 monthly car allowance as a county supervisor.
“All I did was keep track of the mileage and paid them back on the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) reimbursement rate,” he said. “I just thought I was doing the right thing — I was receiving a mileage allotment from the county.”
Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, who serves with Campbell on the District’s board, received a retrofitted Toyota Prius to drive. Pulido also receives a $500 monthly car allowance from the city.
Pulido has not returned Voice of OC’s calls seeking comment, but all indications are that he has not reimbursed the District.
Campbell said the District often receives low polluting industry cars — using things like natural gas, electric and hybrid technology — for staff and directors to test drive. Last year, the agency got three Mini Coopers and when they put the call out, Campbell, who grew up in an auto parts store, jumped at the chance.
Campbell said he publicly touted his test drive on the car, which had a powerful engine and a range of about 100 miles, or 50 on hot days. That’s why people remember him driving it, he thought.
Campbell said he learned through his upbringing and tenure in politics to keep an eye on public expenses. And if that wasn’t enough, he took a business ethics class at Harvard.
The rule of thumb they taught?
“How would this look as a headline in the newspaper?”