Representative Levin Requests Audit of TCA by California Controller Betty Yee Following Allegations of the Mismanagement of Public Funds

May 6, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) sent a letter to California State Controller Betty Yee to request that her office audit the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) finances following allegations of the mismanagement of public funds by the TCA board.

On March 11, the Los Angeles Times published a story outlining TCA’s mismanagement of public funds while working to advance the toll road extension project. The story described instances of gross overpayments to consultants with little demonstrable benefit to the public, including payments totaling $230,000 for consultants to read “emails of news from transportation stories” and $14,000 for the agency’s own consultants to meet with each other.

“It is critical that the State of California investigate these allegations given TCA’s status as a state-authorized joint powers authority and recipient of funds under the State Transportation Improvement Program and State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP),” wrote Representative Levin. “I am concerned that the Times story could ultimately lead to evidence of greater impropriety.”

Representative Levin has consistently voiced opposition to any proposed Toll Road Extension through South Orange County communities. In March, Levin asked California Governor Gavin Newsom to ensure that appropriate ethical and transparency measures are in place for Joint Powers Authorities authorized by the State of California such as TCA. Last month, Representatives Levin and Harley Rouda (D-CA) wrote to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) expressing strong opposition to the TCA’s proposal to extend its toll road network in South Orange County.

See below for the full text of Representative Levin’s letter to Controller Yee:  

Dear Controller Yee,

I write to request that you expeditiously initiate an audit of the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) finances. I appreciate your strong leadership in promoting accountability and transparency for the State of California and local governments, and I believe that this effort is critical to the mission of the State Controller’s Office.

As you may be aware, TCA is comprised of two Joint Powers Authorities that operate in Orange County. A 1987 state law allows TCA to build and manage toll roads throughout the county. TCA has been entrusted with operating four roads, which now constitute 20 percent of the county’s limited-access highway system. The agency is currently pursuing plans to build another toll road in the 49th Congressional District but has faced multiple lawsuits alleging violations of public input and transparency laws.

On March 11, 2019, the Los Angeles Times[1] published a story outlining TCA’s mismanagement of public funds while working to advance the toll road extension project. The story described instances of gross overpayments to consultants with little demonstrable benefit to the public, including payments totaling $230,000 for consultants to read “emails of news from transportation stories” and $14,000 for the agency’s own consultants to meet with each other.

It is critical that the State of California investigate these allegations given TCA’s status as a state-authorized joint powers authority and recipient of funds under the State Transportation Improvement Program and State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP). I am concerned that the Times story could ultimately lead to evidence of greater impropriety.

Once again, thank you for your leadership. I look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

U.S. Rep. Mike Levin

###

 

[1] Elmahrek, Adam. March 11, 2019. “The battle to tame O.C. traffic now rages over fees for high-priced consultants.” Los Angeles Times.