Records Reveal that Taxpayers have been Paying for Insurance Commissioner’s Rent for his Second Residence
According to POLITICO, California’s state insurance commissioner has maintained his primary residence in Los Angeles, while taxpayers have been stuck with thousands of dollars in bills to cover the cost of renting an apartment in Sacramento. Commissioner Ricardo Lara is already under scrutiny for his campaign fundraising and questionable association with the insurance industry. According to POLITICO, Lara’s travel expenditures and his reimbursements from the state in his first six months in office revealed that he charged taxpayers $14,160 in total for his apartment in Sacramento, travel costs and other per diem expenses associated with his position. Lara’s actions have alarmed ethics watchdogs, who believe the arrangement constitutes an ethical gray area. Jessica Levinson, a professor of law and ethics at Loyola University in Los Angeles, stated the following,
For some jobs, you have to move — as millions of Californians will tell you. The rent is high, and a good percentage of their salary goes to it — and that’s how it goes. They don’t get the taxpayers to pay for it. And frankly, neither should the insurance commissioner.
So far, Lara’s decision to file for rental reimbursement breaks precedent with two previous insurance commissioners. Former insurance commissioners Steve Poizner and Dave Jones did not charge living expenses to the state during their tenures. There happens to be a state Insurance Commissioner office in Los Angeles, which is the same city as Lara’s primary residence, but he also rents a studio apartment in Sacramento that he gets reimbursed for by the state. Jamie Court, head of Consumer Watchdog, which is an organization that has been critical of Lara’s performance in office, believes this latest development raises further questions that Lara is potentially misusing public funds. We will have to wait and see if Lara continues to have issue while he continues his tenure as insurance commissioner.