High-Speed Rail Board Can’t Find Records of Travel to Europe

Board members on the California High Speed Rail Authority traveled to Europe — apparently on the nickel of nations with a potential financial stake in California’s proposed $43 billion system — but state officials say they can’t find records showing who paid for the trips and how much.

The Los Angeles Times reported that state ethics laws require agencies to report on such trips.

Some officials, like Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, who chairs the nine-member board, separately reported the trips on their own mandatory conflict of interest statements. Those reports are filed once a year and show business interests, loans and gifts.

In Pringle’s case, he reported, as required, traveling to France and Germany in September 2009 to study high-speed rail systems. The government of France paid $4,800 for his five-day trip, and Germany spent $13,000 for Pringle to study its rail system for eight days.

The forms don’t say why the German trip was so much more expensive than the French trip; nor do they list where he went or what he did. That information isn’t required under California law.

From the Times:

A French government spokesman said most of the trip was funded by SNCF, the French national railroad company that operates high-speed trains. The company, owned by the French government, has been positioning itself to compete for part of the California project.

The Times story said the High Speed Rail Authority should have records for other directors, but officials couldn’t produce them.



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