The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors could join an investigation into one of its own members over allegations he improperly used tens of thousands of dollars in public money to clear brush from his own land.
Board Chairman Ron Briggs said in a Friday statement that he will ask for a special investigation of Supervisor Ray Nutting after a CBS Sacramento examination released earlier this month found Nutting used taxpayer money for projects on hundreds of acres of land he owns near Placerville.
“On camera District II Supervisor Nutting admitted to taking over $70,000 of public monies to cut and clear wood from his personal lands,” Briggs said in the Friday statement. “Furthermore Mr. Nutting said he saw no wrong with his actions and plans to continue to seek and use future public money for his personal use.”
During a Friday phone interview, Nutting said he used the money appropriately to reduce the risk of wildfire on his land. All of the money was Proposition 40 funding and none of it came from the county, Nutting said. Proposition 40 established a program for the state to partner with private landowners to reduce wildfire risk on their lands for mutual benefit.
“Nothing was done wrong,” Nutting said.
Nancy Anderson, the executive secretary to El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, confirmed the office is looking into the allegations of misuse of funds, but declined to discuss any details.
Nutting said he worked with a registered professional forester and CalFire as legally required during the “hundreds and hundreds of hours” that were put into reducing wildfire risk on his land. Nutting said he is planning to release detailed documents related to the use of the public funds early next week.
In Friday’s statement, Briggs said the county would cooperate with the District Attorney’s Office during its investigation.
“On behalf of the board of supervisors it is imperative for the public to know we do not condone any conversion of public money to personal use, period,” Briggs said.
“Should events unfold calling for our board to take unusual or appropriate steps to preserve the integrity of our board, county employees and citizens of the county of El Dorado, we shall do so in a swift and immediate fashion,” the supervisor added.