Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

State Parks Investigation Shows Intentional Hiding of Funds

Jan 4, 2013

A sign announcing the then pending closure of the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The California Attorney General’s office has released its investigation into the funding surplus at the state Parks Department.

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it shows that only part of the $54 million dollars found in two funds were intentionally hidden from the Department of Finance.

The audit shows senior management at the parks department intentionally underreported as much as 20 million dollars beginning in 1996. It found that $34 million concealed in one fund was unintentional. But it’s a different story for the State Parks and Recreation Fund.

The audit found money there was hidden unintentionally at first, but then it became “conscious and deliberate”.  Many top parks officials admitted they were concerned about future budget cuts and knew of the concealment. 

But the investigation failed to determine if former Parks Director Ruth Coleman knew about the hidden funds. She resigned last July when the scandal became public.

The Attorney General interviewed 40 witnesses as part of the investigation. Coleman refused to agree to an interview on the advice of her attorney.