The California Board of Equalization (BOE), the state’s tax collection agency, was in such a state of disarray that state lawmakers chose to strip it of most of its responsibility.
Despite that stunning fact, Diane Harkey, the chairwoman of the BOE, is likely to run for retiring Rep. Darrell Issa’s congressional seat. Breitbart reports (so it may or may not be true) that Harkey has the support of both Issa and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
While Harkey was chair of the BOE, a state Department of Finance review found a staggering array of mismanagement.
The Department of Finance evaluation found that the board “had difficulty providing complete and accurate documentation” in response to inquiries and misallocated millions of dollars in revenue, and that “various levels of management were not aware of and could not speak to” the informal establishment of a call center and creating an unofficial office location.
Among the major findings of the review was that “employees assigned to revenue-generating jobs were reassigned temporarily to help elected board members and their political staffs with jobs that included putting on public outreach events to boost the board members’ standing in their districts.”
Harkey was one of the board members responsible for this confusion, having “brought in 98 board employees usually assigned to tax audit and compliance work” to do work such as “registration, parking lot duty, and break area facilitation” at an event designed to raise her own political profile.
In response to the review, and other audits that provided equally disturbing information, California legislators decided that the Harkey-chaired agency needed to be reigned in.
In June 2017, the legislature “voted to strip the Board of Equalization of almost all of its power and to replace it with two new departments.”
The agency went from wielding enormous authority in collecting roughly $60 billion in taxes annually and a staff of 4,200 to “fewer than 300 employees, no authority to overturn decisions by other state tax departments and a much smaller role in overseeing tax collection.”
At the helm, chairing the board through this decline, sat Diane Harkey.
In the discussion about reorganization, Assemblyman Phil Ting noted, “The organization is in complete disarray, and California taxpayers deserve better.”
Congress, under Republican control, seems to be in disarray already. There is no reason to add more fuel to the fire by sending Harkey to join them. And Californians deserve better.