Not everybody knows it, but not anyone may run for any office; sometimes legislators guard the public interest with strenuous requirements. Attorney general candidates, for instance, must have been a licensed lawyer for five years. And as with the attorney general, to qualify as an El Dorado County treasurer there are specific requirements enumerated in Government Code Section 27000.7.
Why? Because in 1994, the County of Orange and other public agencies entrusted their funds with Orange County Treasurer Robert Citron, who suffered a backbreaking bankruptcy when he lost over $1.6 billion because he made risky, bad investments. Citron was an Orange County politician who bet the “farm” that interest rates would remain low and lost his bet and the farm. Citron’s excuse was he didn’t have a college degree and was duped. Citron pleaded guilty to six felony counts while 3,000 county employees lost their jobs and school districts felt the pain with massive budget cuts.
In response to the debacle, the state Legislature enacted minimum qualifications beginning in 1998 for County Treasurer-Tax Collector. Persons running must have either a baccalaureate, masters or doctoral degree in business or related fields like econ or finance with at least 16 units of accounting, or CPA license, or be a Charted Financial Analyst or a Certified Cash Manager, with both the latter two also requiring 16 units of college accounting. Ron Briggs has none of these qualifications, let alone achieving a college degree in any field.
There is another way to qualify and that is by serving in a senior financial management position in a public agency for not less than three continuous years such as an assistant treasurer or assistant auditor or in a similar capacity as a chief deputy. Briggs claims that being a county supervisor should qualify him because he voted on budgets, etc. That is not what three continuous years in a senior financial management position means. It means someone who has first-hand experience in accounting and investing public funds day in and day out, eight hours a day for three straight years (vacations excepted). Briggs is a politician, not a financial manager.
And it is obvious Briggs learned nothing about handling public funds when about two years ago during a BOS meeting he said the No. 1 priority for county investments is yield and that safety isn’t that important. After six years as a member of the Board of Supervisors, Briggs hadn’t even learned the basic tenants of public investments, which are prescribed by government regulation (SB 861). In investing public funds, the first priority is safety. Second is liquidity and third and last is yield. Briggs would be setting up the county to risk public funds with another Citron style bankruptcy.
Thank goodness, if Briggs were to somehow win this election, he can still be disqualified pursuant to section 27000.7.