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Thursday
May102012

SACRAMENTO: Noguez "scandal," proposed legislation, AB 404 (Assemblyman Mike Gatto), to treat tax agents as county lobbyists, require registration, ban on campaign contributions to any county elected official, limit on gifts to county employees.... 

* LA Weekly:  "John Noguez Scandal Prompts State Legislation To Treat Tax Agents As Lobbyists" - From the Weekly:

   Assemblyman Mike Gatto is preparing to introduce legislation in response to the alleged "pay-to-play" scandal at the L.A. County Assessor's Office. The bill focuses on tax agents, who are hired by property owners to push for lower appraisals. . . . . . . . .

   Gatto's bill, AB 404, would require tax agents to register as lobbyists, in counties that already regulate lobbying. The bill leaves it up to the counties to craft specific regulations, but such rules could include bans on contributions and gifts, and requirements to disclose client lists.

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   Noguez, whose home and office were searched two weeks ago, supports the measure, said assessor's spokesman Louis Reyes. Noguez's office has already drafted proposed tax agent regulations and sent them to Supervisor Gloria Molina for consideration at the Board of Supervisors.

   The draft regulations would require tax agents to register with the county, would forbid them from making campaign contributions to any county elected official. They would also bar tax agents from giving gifts worth more than $50 to county employees. . . . . .. Molina, however, has decided to hold off on introducing the proposed ordinance, and no other supervisor has offered to take it up. The supervisors recently asked for an audit of the assessor's revenue projections. . . . . The D.A. is also continuing to investigate Noguez's office, which has made county supervisors wary of getting too closely involved. "We want until all the facts are in," said Roxane Marquez, Molina's spokeswoman.

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   Meanwhile, Peter Kotschedoff, the president of the California Alliance of Taxpayer Advocates, says it's too soon to start responding to the scandal with broad policy changes. "CATA believes it would be premature for any action to be taken until the District Attorney investigation, the L. A. County Auditor-Controller audit and the State Board of Equalization regular survey are concluded," Kotschedoff says in a written statement.