California Democrats seek new federal probe of water project
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Five California Democrats in Congress asked Tuesday for a new federal review of funding for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tunnel project.
Their request follows a federal audit of Brown’s $16 billion proposal to re-engineer California’s complex north-south water system by building two giant water tunnels. The audit, released by the U.S. Interior Department’s inspector-general in September, found that the Interior Department improperly used federal taxpayer money to help fund planning for the tunnels.
Congressional Democrats are now asking the U.S. General Accounting Office to determine whether that funding was legal. Five California Democrats and one Arizona Democrat made the request.
In an email, Interior Department spokesman Russell Newell said the alleged misuse of $84 million in federal funds for the tunnels occurred during the previous administration, and that the Interior Department welcomed the request for a review of the legality.
“The $84 million spent in taxpayers’ money without disclosure to Congress and kept hidden from the public were decisions driven and executed by the Obama Administration and that team,” Newell said.
Brown’s administration is currently trying to line up support for the project among California water districts.