Investigation continues into Shirakawa's credit card use

December 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The investigation continues into allegations that a Santa Clara supervisor misused a county credit card, but on Tuesday fellow board members passed new policies to prevent future abuse.

Ironically, the man on the hot seat was running the supervisors meeting -- George Shirakawa, Jr., is the president of the board. His colleagues are trying to tighten policies and procedures when supervisors use a county-issued credit card.

"The actions we're taking today are an important first step in restoring the public trust in this board," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman.

That trust has been shaken by county audits that suggest that over a four-year period Shirakawa's office spent over $30,000 in public funds that violated existing rules.

Shirakawa and the other four supervisors voted unanimously to approve stricter rules. However, the District Attorney's Office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission are conducting their own investigations, leaving a cloud over Shirakawa.

Shirakawa: No, David, I would disagree there's a cloud, but obviously I take responsibility for my actions, and I was glad to vote for the ordinance. Thank you.
Louie: Where do you think this is all going to go at this point?
Shirakawa: I have no more further comment. Thanks, David.

Expenses by supervisors will now be reviewed faster.

"They will be compiled in procurement and then forwarded to me, so I will be reviewing them as they come in," said Gary Graves, the county chief operating officer.

County executive Jeff Smith acknowledged that expenses in the past were not subject to a thorough audit.

"What has been called an audit is not truly an audit. What happens on a regular basis, finance looks at the expenditures and makes sure all the paperwork is in place," said Smith.

County assessor Larry Stone believes public trust will be restored by the changes.

"That's why we have to clear it up. We have to clear it up quickly, and we've got to make sure that our policies are not only solid and sound, but they're enforced on a regular, timely basis," said Stone.

In the meantime, the District Attorney's Office isn't saying where its investigation of Supervisor Shirakawa stands.

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