Carrie Lopez, the Director of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs, turned in her resignation letter to Governor Schwarzenegger yesterday. Her expenses had been under investigation after The LA Times revealed that she charged the state for transportation to a Justin Timberlake concert at the Staples Center back in 2007. The tickets for Lopez and her daughter had been paid for by Sempra Energy. Her resignation follows that of her former boss, Rosario Marin, who led the State and Consumer Services Agency.
It was also revealed that Lopez charged the state for meals on at least two occasions when records showed that she was being fed courtesy of event hosts, Sempra and Bank of America. To compound matters, Lopez had indicated that she may have not eaten at those events…which begs the question, ‘Why was she charging for those meals in the first place?’ So many of us here in the Golden State have to brown bag it, especially in these tough times that charging for something that is already being paid for certainly does raise red flags.
Fortunately, Lopez has agreed to reimburse the state for any expenses that cannot be justified. I am glad that she’s doing this. To me, this illustrates that Carrie Lopez is willing to amend for any wrong doing and is trying to do right by way of the California taxpayer. She has already repaid the state for the transportation to the Timberlake concert and has refunded the cost of the tickets and the food to the energy company as reported by the LA Times. Sometimes leaders have to fall on their swords, and if in fact, more questionable expenses were found in the audit of Lopez’s reports, then she is doing right by leaving her office and giving someone else an opportunity to serve.
As Seneca has stated before, “For Latinos who are acting in the public arena as elected or appointed officials and career public servants, it becomes an obligation to demonstrate respect for the public concerns on ethical behavior.” Thank you for your service Carrie Lopez and for leaving your office with dignity. We have seen what happens when people under ethics investigations have to go out screaming and kicking, and it isn’t always pretty.
Photo Credit: Carrie Lopez, Director of CA Department of Consumer Affairs until April 3, 2009, www.dca.ca.gov