HEADLINES : California
California Fire Chief Defends Secret Fund
California's fire chief called his department's off-books fund "an invaluable tool" and said he "will not apologize for using it to improve our cost recovery efforts" in an internal memo obtained by The Sacramento Bee.
Since 2005, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, has paid the nonprofit California District Attorneys Association to house a special fund for training seminars and high-tech investigatory equipment. The fund collected $3.6 million overall and is being dissolved this month at the nonprofit's request.
A 2009 internal Cal Fire draft audit found the department was required to obtain the Finance Department's permission to house funds in a nonprofit outside state bank accounts, prompting a Cal Fire attorney to warn that informing Finance could result in department budget cuts. The finding was removed from a final version of the audit.