What You Should Know about the Board of Equalization’s Bad Press

Re: “Unnecessary Trouble? Some Candidates for State Board of Equalization are Running to Abolish the Obscure Agency,” News, May 17

I respectfully submit the following advisement to statements made in Gary Walker’s article to clarify the facts for your consideration and that of your readers.

Regarding procurement, the Board of Equalization (BOE) procurement process for furniture or any large purchases specifically excluded board members — as such, the first I heard about the $130,000 cost and the quantity or quality of the furniture was when I read it in the press. My office was merely involved in the selection of the color — after the vendor was selected and the purchase was authorized at the price, quantity, and quality determined by the procurement division and the executive director’s staff.

Further, the same staff, not I, made the initial decision to purchase new furniture, instead of moving my previous furniture from the prior office they had leased for me, based on their plan to move management and staff related to the investigations division into my previous office. Once I learned of the cost and quantity of the new furniture from the newspaper, however — and physically observed it — I immediately requested that the department return it, but was advised by management that they could not.

In point of fact, the July 2017 State Department of General Services audit found that the BOE was conducting its procurement functions in accordance with state requirements — including the procurement of the $130,000 worth of office furniture mentioned in the article that was purchased for the BOE by DGS — at the request of the BOE contract and procurement division and the approval of the executive director.

In regard to the alleged “mishandling of tens of millions of dollars” mentioned in the article, the 2016 State Controller’s Office review of BOE’s revenue allocation showed no such evidence whatsoever. Rather, the facts show that some sales tax revenues in one period were “misallocated” by the BOE between two cities due to routine technology and staff reporting issues. This misallocation was corrected prior to completion of the audit.

In addition, the November 2017 State Personnel Board Final Report on BOE found no nepotism on my part.

Unfortunately, the Legislature did strip many of the powers and duties of the elected board, to the dismay of every major business association in Sacramento. I continue to question the legality and constitutionality of these actions that have deprived voters of their right to be represented in sales, income and 28 other tax administration and adjudication matters and related policies and regulations, and which I argued were violations of the rights of taxpayers to due process before an elected tax board.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this clarification.

Jerome E. Horton, Member

Board of Equalization,
3rd District