Reporting Anjali Hemphill
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - A state employee used company time and taxpayer money to post thousands of comments on a local newspaper’s website but never lost his job.
According to the report this employee posted about 25 comments per day nearly every day he was on the job and never received any formal discipline.
“That’s ludicrous,” a Department of Education employee said.
That’s the reaction of other department employees after finding out their coworker posted almost 5,000 comments on sacbee.com within a year.
“He is using the taxpayers’ time to voice his opinions on whatever it was that struck his fancy,” said Lance Izumi with the Pacific Research Institute.
The state audit report says this employee posted almost every day between December 2010 and December 2011 – all while on company time.
When questioned, the employee claimed he didn’t have enough work to do during the day to stay busy.
“Why do we have people who are saying “Well, I’m being paid to basically do nothing?’” Izumi asked.
“Hopefully it’s not a reflection on everybody within the state of California that works for a state agency,” a DOE employee said.
According to the report, the employee posted comments on sacbee.com during 195 of the 208 days he was at work. That’s 94 percent of the time. It says he averaged about 25 comments a day.
On his most active day, he commented 70 times. Again, all during business hours.
“When you look at the way private employers deal with this type of offense or infraction, they are able to seriously discipline or terminate the employee,” Izumi said.
The employee kept his job and, according to the audit, continued to post even after he was warned not to do so. He’s no longer with the department, having left voluntarily before the report was realized.
The Department of Education says it has installed software that restricts employees from posting to social media websites without authorization.
The audit also identified several other issues that cost taxpayer dollars:
- $119,000 in overtime pay was paid to 18 employees at the California State Athletic Commission when they should have been paid at a regular rate;
- $55,000 in improper travel benefits were paid to employees of the Natural Resources Agency;
- Two bribery and three mail fraud convictions were also in the report, which cost the state almost $300,000.