Jeff Stone takes “Slush Funding” to a New Level

Steve Gramm Steve Gramm

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Just when we thought the San Diego County Board of Supervisors was as blatant as it could get in spreading their “discretionary” taxpayer monies (slush funds, to be exact) around the community as a way to promote their names and curry favor, then we take a look next door.

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone has taken the use of taxpayer slush funds to benefit his name to a new level.  San Diego County Supervisors can’t even begin to hold a candle to him.

Riverside Supervisors each have a $1 million slush fund that they use to fund various organizations and pet projects. That alone is not much different than San Diego County. Yet,  in Riverside, Stone’s pet project is actually entitled “Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone’s Race for Humanity,” a non-profit started by his sister Lori Stone.

The organization was launched as a non-profit corporation on October 25, 2006, according to the Secretary of State. Shortly before the launch of the organization, Lori Stone wrote two letters to the FPPC wanting to know how much Supervisor Stone’s name could be used on mail and handouts and if the donations solicited by Stone are subject to reporting requirements. Seems like a rather odd question considering Supervisor Stone’s recent call for 150% transparency concerning a county contract.

Stone has “given” the Race for Humanity $323,025 from “his” slush fund and the county has donated an additional $115,374.  Out of that $438,399, all but $37,500 was for the first three races.  When you back out the taxpayer contributions, the Race for Humanity has only donated an average of $26,809 a year back to the community in the first three years (2007-2009).

Seems like a lot of work for only $27,000 a year, unless of course the non-profit’s main concern is to promote the Supervisor’s name with an organization named after himself, and to circumvent the regular overview of the County as to which organizations receive donations by going the slush fund route.

Let’s face it, the organization would probably not exist on 27k per year, not at the level they are providing services, if it weren’t for the money flowing in from the County. No wonder the race is named after Stone. But, shouldn’t it be named after the taxpayers who are truly footing the bill?

Maybe this is why the treasurer for the organization was hesitant last year to allow a Riverside Press-Enterprise reporter to see their tax filings as required by law. CEO and sister Lori Stone did not reply to the same reporter’s inquiries into the organization.

By the way, Lori Stone works out of Jeff Stone’s supervisorial office a number of hours per month.

So how about starting some real transparency in your own backyard, Supervisor Stone, before going next door and telling San Diegans how transparent you are?

Steve Gramm writes about California politics, when he is not trying to earn a living dealing with the business impacts created by California politics.

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