Whistleblower suit alleges LA assessor gave property tax breaks to politically connected

Landlords and developers among groups who received the tax cuts

Oct.October 09, 2019 03:00 PM
LA Whistleblower Suit Alleges Property Tax Cuts for Connected
LA Whistleblower Suit Alleges Property Tax Cuts for Connected

Taxpayers with ties to elected officials have been given favorable treatment by the L.A. county assessor’s office that allowed them to save millions of dollars in property taxes, according to a new whistleblower lawsuit.

The whistleblowers, three employees at the assessor’s office, allege that County Assessor Jeff Prang, his top managers and county lawyers have violated tax codes to benefit property owners by giving them favorable decisions on reassessments, the Los Angeles Times reported. The suit alleged that special tax treatment was a “quid pro quo” for campaign contributions — though none were cited in the suit.

The taxpayers who received special treatment, according to the article, include the Rand Corp., a government-sponsored think tank in Santa Monica, apartment complex and property developers, and a property swap in the wealthy enclave of San Marino involving John Barger, the brother of County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

The whistleblowers allege they were pressured to unlawfully change unfavorable tax decisions they made during a taxpayer’s reassessment, the LAT reported.They said they were punished when they didn’t go along with their bosses, and effectively were demoted to clerks, the suit states.

Prang’s office said the lawsuit is without merit, and was filed by “disgruntled assessor employees. [LAT] — Pat Maio

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