Salas Introduces Bill to Improve Oversight & Accountability for Fairs
SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) introduced Assembly Bill 1841 (AB 1841) which would implement crucial accountability and transparency measures recommended by the State Auditor following their investigation of a district agricultural association which operates under the oversight of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). These associations hold local fairs and exhibitions and hire employees to oversee operations and ensure that certain policies are being implemented. Following whistleblower complaints, the State Auditor’s report found that an association grossly mismanaged state resources and allowed their employees to misuse resources, sometimes with the approval or participation of supervisors.
“The State Auditor’s report was alarming and demands immediate corrective action,” said Assemblymember Salas. “AB 1841 will implement greatly needed accountability measures which will mandate that employees undergo ethics and conflict-of-interest training as well as develop policies to mitigate the potential for misuses of state funds.”
According to the report, the State Auditor recommends that the association, “develop appropriate controls to protect assets and mitigate the potential for misuse, prevent inappropriate purchases and travel, and segregate duties as a preventative measure against improper purchases.”
Some of these misuses included employees taking home state property, misusing state vehicles, and making inappropriate purchases. According to the State Auditor, CDFA did not adequately oversee the association, failing to perform compliance audits of the association that could have discovered and addressed many of these improper activities.
AB 1841 will address some of the most concerning issues found in the report by tasking the CDFA to require directors to attend ethics training each year, mandate that associations report salary information, require compliance audits, and develop policies to prevent misuses of state funds.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.