Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Scientology Lapdog Jeff Stone Caught in Financial Scandal

The Press-Enterprise:


Riverside supervisor touts sister's pro-bono work for county, pays her
from campaign fund

10:26 PM PDT on Monday, March 23, 2009

By JULIA GLICK [Reach Julia Glick at 951-368-9442 or]
The Press-Enterprise

Supervisor Jeff Stone frequently praises his sister as Riverside
County's best bargain because she works full-time as an unpaid volunteer
in his office.

But records show he paid Lori Stone more than $180,000 in campaign money
last year for political consulting and professional services and he
assigned her the free use of a county car with taxpayer-funded gasoline

Over the past three years, Stone's campaign payments to his sister
totaled about $330,000.

In reporting this story, The Press-Enterprise tried to interview Lori
Stone and another staff member. Jeff Stone directed them not to comment
and asked that requests be referred to him.
Story continues below
Lori Stone

Stone then declined to discuss the issues in person or by phone, saying
he wanted all questions submitted in writing by e-mail. The
Press-Enterprise declined. Stone then sent a lengthy e-mail defending
his sister's use of a county car and her volunteer service.

"In addition to Lori putting in 50 to 60 hours a week of her time to
improve the quality of life of women in the 3rd District, she was having
to endure a personal expense of transporting herself throughout the
County to do the fine work she does," he wrote. "I felt it was a lot to
ask of a full time volunteer to not only donate her time to the County
pro bono but to expect her to pay for all her travel expenses."

Stone, who plans to run for state Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth's seat in
2010, said his sister's use of a county car as his volunteer legislative
assistant was consistent with county policies.

County spokesman Ray Smith said restrictions on volunteers' use of
county vehicles do not apply to supervisors, only to the department
heads and workers that serve under them.

Roman Porter, spokesman for the state's Fair Political Practices
Commission, said Stone's payments to his sister do not violate any laws
provided they are entirely for political, legislative or governmental

But the large amount of money to a sibling raises questions, said Bob
Stern, president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies.

Stone paid his sister almost $40,000 more in 2008 than he earned as a
county supervisor.

Stone was re-elected by a landslide in 2008 against a challenger who
raised less than $1,000, a fact that gave Stern pause.

"Campaign consultants do not get almost $200,000 for noncompetitive
races," Stern said, adding: "I don't think any legislative assistant
gets $200,000. The question is what is she doing for her pay? I think
this is case No. 1 for saying relatives should not be paid out of
campaign funds because it's just too open for abuse."

Volunteer Work?

Stern said Stone could legally pay a legislative assistant's salary out
of his campaign funds, but the pay must be in line with the amount of
work and the skill level of the person performing it.

That aside, Stone has repeatedly said his sister works entirely for free
for the county, identifying her as a "volunteer" on his Web Site.

Lori Stone works on homelessness issues, serves on the Riverside County
Women's Commission and was appointed official county spokeswoman for the
Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement team, Stone said in his e-mail. He
added that she has launched and run several successful fundraisers for
nonprofit organizations.

"Replacing her on my staff would cost the county a minimum of $60-70,000
per year in salary not including benefits," he said. "The citizens of
this county are the beneficiaries of her pro-bono work."

County rules would not permit Stone to directly hire his sister for his
staff or directly supervise her.

A county ordinance forbids county officers, including supervisors, from
involvement in decisions to employ, retain, promote or make work
assignments for a sibling or other immediate relative on the county
payroll. The ordinance does not apply to volunteers, county spokesman
Smith said.

County Car

Lori Stone has never been on the county payroll but drives a county car,
a 2000 Ford Explorer. The county purchased the sport utility vehicle in
1999 for its Transportation and Land Management Agency, records show.

In May 2007, the car was transferred to Stone's office, where it was
assigned to Lori Stone, according to fleet records.

The car had almost 105,000 miles on it when it was reassigned and is now
nearing 132,000 miles, according to fleet records. Drivers of county
vehicles rely on county gas pumps and county maintenance services,
officials said.

Bob Howdyshell, director of county purchasing and fleet services, said
supervisors' staff members often seek cars that have been used by other
departments in the interest of frugality. But Lori Stone's situation is
one-of-a-kind because she is a full-time volunteer, he said.

"I am not familiar with anyone who is a volunteer and has a long-term
arrangement with a vehicle," he said of the vehicles used in county

A county ordinance states that volunteers may not use county vehicles
without justification from the relevant department head and
authorization from the county executive officer.

But the requirement does not apply to the supervisors or their staff,
Smith said. That's because supervisors set policy and oversee the county
executive officer and department heads, he said. The requirements do not
specifically refer to supervisors, he added.

Only the board would have the ability to change those rules to include
them and their staffs, Smith said.

Consulting Pay

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone says his sister Lori Stone is a
volunteer in his office. Meanwhile he has paid her more than $330,000 in
campaign funds for consulting and professional work over the past three

Campaign contributions
Payments made
Consulting, professional
payments to Lori Stone

Campaign contributions
Payments made
Consulting, professional
payments to Lori Stone

Campaign contributions
Payments made
Consulting, professional
payments to Lori Stone

Source: Campaign finance filings