March 13, 2013
CA Probe Finds Millions Earmarked for Wildlife Preservation Being Spent Elsewhere
By Chad Love
As if California sportsmen don't have enough to worry about, an internal audit conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has revealed that millions of dollars meant for wildlife have instead been going to pretty much everything but wildlife.
From this story in the Los Angeles Times:
Over the last decade, millions of public dollars intended for wildlife preservation areas were spent off the books on state office needs, equipment and building construction, among other items, officials said Thursday. Last year alone, at least $1.7 million was diverted from California's Wildlife Restoration Fund to pay for office operations, routine bills and gift cards for official use, according to Mike Taugher, a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The irregularities were found in an internal department investigation.
According to the story, it's not known exactly how much of the earmarked funds were diverted to other uses, which included $5,000 in Home Depot gift cards that could not be accounted for. Ag lease payments on 50 of California's state wildlife areas were also never put into the fund — that money was funneled into other accounts not part of the state treasury. The probe is, as they say, ongoing.