THE PREVEN REPORT--It's against the law not to pay fuel excise taxes, but that’s exactly what the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office did for years, according to the LA County Auditor-Controller's January 2016 report on the "Voyager" Charge Card program. To date there’s been not a single disciplinary action taken over the matter, even though everyday residents of Los Angeles are prosecuted all the time for less serious violations of the law. The Auditor-Controller writes:
We noted that the DA had filed the required annual certificate and therefore received the fuel tax exemption for the period we reviewed. However, the DA was not paying the federal fuel excise tax to the IRS on the personal portion of fuel purchases made by DA management and other employees.
It’s been twenty months since the report just cited. Have all those back taxes been paid yet? It’s impossible to know without documented proofs of payment. We’ve asked the DA for that proof, and we will report back, asap.
There’s reason for doubt. In response to the audit, the District Attorney promised to draft a new County vehicle use policy addressing the “significant deficiencies” of the Voyager program. The due date for that revised policy was March 2016, but the card use policy currently posted on the county website was last updated in 2014.
(Eric Preven and Joshua Preven are public advocates for better transparency in local government and are occasional contributors to CityWatch. A piece they wrote for CityWatch "It’s Time to End LA’s Secret Meetings: What Do City Council Members and LA’s County Supervisors Have to Hide?" won the LA Press Club award for Online Political Commentary.)