California

Audit: Calif. Parks Dept. Deliberately Underreported Finances

Hid funds from the state in midst of fiscal crisis

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It wasn't an accident. Just when Sacramento was facing a budget deficit and soliciting private donations to keep 70 state parks open, the state Department of Parks and Recreation "intentionally" under-reported its available funds by $53 million, according to a new audit.

The report, by the state Department of Finance, comes in response to the July bombshell that the parks department had on hand extra money that been unreported to the governor's office for years. Director Ruth Coleman resigned immediately and her second-in-command was fired in the wake of that disclosure, which came on the heels of another report that parks officials had carried out an unauthorized vacation buy-back program that cost taxpayers  more than $200,000.