LADWP Trusts Paid for Steak Dinners and Trips to Hawaii, Las Vegas, City Audits Find

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The Department of Water and Power building in downtown Los Angeles is shown. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Department of Water and Power building in downtown Los Angeles is shown. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Two nonprofit trusts, created by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and financed with more than $40 million from ratepayers, paid millions to vendors without competitive bids, overpaid top managers and let them use trust-issued credit cards to buy gas for their personal vehicles and travel without filing expense reports, according to city audits released on Thursday.

In five years, a handful of trust employees made more than $660,000 in purchases on their publicly financed credit cards for things such as steak dinners and trips to Las Vegas, Hawaii and New Orleans, City Controller Ron Galperin said.

One top administrator who was making about $220,000 per year used his trust-issued card to pump more than $30,000 worth of gasoline into his personal vehicle between 2010 and 2014, auditors found.

The audits released Thursday ended more than a yearlong political and legal battle waged against the city by the nonprofits’ top administrators — particularly Brian D’Arcy, head of the city-owned utility’s largest employees’ union — to keep the groups’ detailed spending records secret.

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