Assemblyman Cameron Smyth today called for the resignation of Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez, following the arrest of a former aide who lowered property values for homeowners that made campaign contributions to Noguez.
“Today’s events make it eminently clear that Mr. Noguez (pictured at left) has betrayed the public trust, and is no longer fit to hold office,” said Smyth. “As Chair of the Assembly Local Government Committee, I’ve held hearings relating to the scandals we’ve seen in cities like Bell and Vernon, and the number one thing that I took away from those hearings is that we need to be vigilant about weeding out corruption and trying to restore the public’s faith in government. That these activities were taking place in Mr. Noguez’s office, and perhaps at his direction, further erodes that faith.”
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Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley has led a widespread investigation into the activities of the Assessor’s office, and last week urged Noguez to resign. Noguez has denied any wrongdoing.
“Even if Mr. Noguez did nothing wrong, as he claims, he has clearly lost control of his office,” said Smyth. “For something of this magnitude to be happening under his nose, without drawing any suspicion, raises serious questions about his performance and the ethical standards he set for his office.”
Earlier this month, Smyth introduced Assembly Bill 2210, which would require the assessor to notify the governing body if the assessed valuation of property decreases by more than three percent within 30 days of the request for the estimate. AB 2210 further requires that within 15 days of notifying the governing body of this decrease, the assessor notify the Department of Finance, the board of supervisors, the governing boards of the cities within the county, and all affected school districts.
“This isn’t just a matter of a handful of wealthy campaign contributors getting special treatment,” said Smyth. “We’re talking about slashing the values of hundreds of homes, and eliminating tens of millions of dollars from county tax rolls. That has a ripple effect that decimates budgets for school districts, district hospitals, and anyone who relies on property tax revenue.”