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Whistleblowers Expose State Workers Abusing Public Funds




    It's the kind of wasteful behavior that drives  taxpayers crazy.

    A staffer at the Department of Mental Health decided it would be worthwhile to spend hours hanging out with celebrities in Southern California, attending concerts and star-studded golf tournaments. Trouble was, according to a whistleblower report made public Thursday, that staffer did his stargazing on the tapayers' dime.

    That was just one highlight of a list of misdeeds compiled by State Auditor Elaine Howle.

    According to investigators, that worker argued that attending the events, including the Golden Globe Awards, allowed him to hit up Hollywood-types to support mental health programs.

    Auditors weren't amused, and said all that activity added up to more than $50,000 in salary that wasn't justified.

    Other findings:

    -A Fish and Game worker improperly got the go-ahead to use a state vehicle to commute between the home and office. The worker rolled up 20,000 miles over nine months, costing the taxpayers more than $8,000.

    -A state Corrections Department psychologist did a bit of moonlighting, using state computers to conduct work for his private psychology practice.  Auditors figure that added up to more than $200,000 in lost productivity.

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