California Insurance Commissioner Charging Rent for Second Residence to Taxpayers

Sky-high housing prices are the bane of many a California taxpayer, but embattled state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, at least, is getting some help.

Lara has charged taxpayers thousands of dollars since his January inauguration for renting a residence in Sacramento, state records show, in an unusual arrangement watchdogs say constitutes an ethical gray area at best — and at worst another political maelstrom for an official already under scrutiny.

POLITICO examined Lara’s travel expenditures and his reimbursements from the state in his first six months in the office. During those months, Lara charged taxpayers $14,160 in total for his apartment in Sacramento, travel costs and other per diem expenses associated with his position, according to the records.

Lara spokesperson Michael Soller defended the charges, saying they don’t violate state law, characterizing them as justified expenses, given travel and other demands associated with Lara’s new position. …

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