Report: State Parks intentionally hid money

An aerial view of Malibu Lagoon, just north of Surfrider Beach. 

California State Parks purposely skewed its budget numbers for at least 10 years until the 2012 discovery of a $54-million surplus, too embarrassed to reveal millions of dollars in hidden funds and fearing state budget cuts, according to a report from the California Attorney General’s office.

The details of the investigation were released Friday as the story of State Parks’ budget discrepancies continues to unravel. In July, it was revealed that budget officials for State Parks maintained a hidden account that built up to $54 million over many years. The discovery was especially troubling after the department emphasized major financial struggles in 2012 and threatened to close 70 state parks in order to save $22 million. 

Beginning sometime between 1999 and 2003, officials made “conscious and deliberate” decisions to report wrong numbers to the state’s Department of Finance, according to investigators. 

In dozens of interviews with current and former State Parks officials, investigators found that many feared being shamed if the millions of stashed-away money was revealed. Officials were also scared of annual budget cuts, the investigation found. 

The State Parks Department has been involved in several high-profile cases in Malibu over the years, including the Malibu Lagoon project currently underway and efforts to remove Rindge Dam.

For the full report, visit here