Request for emergency audit of California's high-speed rail denied

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2015, file photo, a full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train is displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

A request for an emergency audit of California's high-speed rail project was denied Monday by Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

The request was made by conservative Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who has been vocal about the troubles the project is facing.

In a letter to Patterson, Muratsuchi said, "I respectfully deny concurrence. Your request to bypass the regular audit request procedure provided in Committee Rule 15 would deny the full Committee, the State Auditor, and the general public the opportunity to review, analyze, and comment on your request in an open meeting of the Committee."

Muratsuchi furthered his response in a statement to Eyewitness News that said, “Because the Legislature is not in session, the audit request was denied to ensure transparency and to give members of the committee and the public the opportunity to have a say in the decision."

Muratsuchi suggested Patterson resubmit the audit request at the next committee meeting that is tentatively scheduled for this January.

Patterson countered in a statement sent out by his spokesperson.

It said Muratsuchi and his co-chair "have the delegated authority to approve the California Auditor – on an emergency basis - to dig deeper in to (sic) the project which is nearly a decade behind schedule. Questions about potential hidden or downplayed cost overruns as well as information about a potential contingency plan for the project if public/private funds fall through were to be answered."

Patterson said, "Only politicians who don’t want to find out the truth would oppose an emergency audit, especially given what past audits have revealed, and the alarming new concerns discovered in the last few months."

The state auditor's office released a report on the bullet train project five years ago and noted a number of concerns about finances and ridership.

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