Larry Wahl’s violation of trust

Looks like Butte County Supervisor Larry Wahl allowed his office, assistant to be used for political campaign work

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the recent Yes on Measure A campaign was the role played by Butte County Supervisor Larry Wahl. If a Fair Political Practices Commission complaint recently filed by the opposition group Chico Conservation Voters is true—and we believe it is—Wahl allowed his county office to be used as a campaign headquarters and his executive assistant, Stephanie Taber, to do campaign work while on the public’s dime.

Some of the evidence is in black and white: printouts of campaign-related e-mail messages Taber sent during working hours using her county e-mail address. Other evidence comes from potential witnesses who say they saw her handing out campaign materials while on duty at the office.

There was some confusion initially about whether those materials—yard signs and such—were stored in Wahl’s county office. The supervisor later said they were stored in an adjacent room in the same building, but not in his office. Nevertheless, Taber apparently was distributing them while working in Wahl’s office.

Wahl’s evident concurrence in his assistant’s use of his county office to do partisan political work while on the public payroll is disgraceful. For one thing, he’s had problems with the FPPC before, in 2004, when the commission fined him $12,000 for seven violations of the Fair Political Practices Act. So he had to be aware of the importance of obeying the law.

More important, though, is the fact that he now occupies the highest elected office in the county. Voters in District 2 have entrusted him to represent them with integrity. By mixing his taxpayer-funded public work with a partisan political campaign, he has violated that trust.

We urge the FPPC to do a thorough investigation of the complaint and take all appropriate remedies.