Oakland Tribune

Audit committee wants Pacifica's financial records

Friday September 03, 1999

By Cecily Burt

A state legislative rules committee voted Thursday to subpoena financial records from Pacifica Foundation, sending a strong message that it intends to find out whether Pacifica violated its nonprofit status and misused listener contributions intended for KPFA Radio.

In a Sept. 2 letter to Pacifica attorneys, Legislative Counsel Bion Gregory warned that unless all of the requested financial documents were received by noon today, subpoenas would be issued. The Joint  Rules Committee also rejected Pacifica's condition of confidentiality on any financial records it disclosed.

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee held a public hearing Aug. 20 to gather testimony about the long-running dispute between Pacifica management and KPFA -- a dispute that culminated in an 18-day  staff lockout. Pacifica representatives refused to attend, so the committee last week requested they turn over bank records and financial reports for the past year.

The committee also requested invoices and payments made to guard companies and public relations firms, among others.

Pacifica reluctantly agreed to provide the records, but not without  first requesting a guarantee of confidentiality, outlined in a letter to the Legislature on Sept. 1.

That condition didn't sit well with legislators.

"The rules committee didn't appreciate having conditions and voted to issue subpoenas," said Hans Hermann, an aide to Assemblywoman Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley), a member of the audit committee. "(Pacifica) was putting us in the position that if something leaked out, the legislature would be held accountable."

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