A top Los Angeles County official who uses a taxpayer-funded SUV for his 600 mile commute every week is unrepentant about it, as well as the bill he racks up by staying in a hotel five days a week before driving 300 miles home for the weekend.
He has driven 46,000 miles in the vehicle in the last year; if he drove home every weekend, that means roughly 30,000 of those miles were back-and-forth from his home.
LA County Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers is in charge of the largest probation department in the nation. Salaried at $255,000 a year, he lives in the San Joaquin Valley but works in Downey, 300 miles away. Every Friday he drives home 300 miles after spending the work-week in a hotel, then drives back Monday morning to arrive in Downey.
Powers told CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein, “If I can get out because I don’t have appointments… yes… I try to get out on Fridays early. It’s not a secret.”
Powers pays $50 a month to use the SUV for business or personal use. Powers’ county gas credit card statements show more than $5,400 spent on fuel since January 2012. His hotel room charges over the same period amounted to nearly $23,000. He is allowed up to $25,000 in relocation expenses.
Powers told Goldstein he’d pay the hotel charges when he reaches the limit, and offered no apology for his use of taxpayer money, instead saying defiantly, “I can’t speak to what the taxpayer feels is appropriate or not appropriate. I can only respond to… I’m not violating any county policy.”