“More than ever, it’s critical that California has a tax system and structure in place that ensures we collect and manage all the vital tax dollars our state needs to function and flourish.”  Learn more about Why I’m Running.

May 4, 2017

Dear Friends,

In my years of elective office and service, I have always begun every election campaign by doing my due diligence for the office I was seeking. I have also sought to understand the issues and concerns faced by constituents. As a candidate for the State Board of Equalization District Two, I have spent the last several months meeting with small business owners, tax attorneys. accountants, labor groups, and County Assessors. I have attended and watched meetings of the Board of Equalization. And most recently I have reviewed the release of an audit of the BOE completed by the State Department of Finance.

The Department of Finance audit report, which is the first of several audits currently under way, precipitated a series of ongoing hearings in the Legislature and led the Governor to call for an investigation of the BOE by the Department of Justice. The Governor also took away the ability of the Board of Equalization to hire or promote staff and enter into new contracts and he asked the Legislature to explore structural changes for the BOE.

Given my due diligence regarding the BOE and in light of recent revelations in the initial audit, I believe that significant changes need to be made to policy and procedure to impact the functioning of the Board. I also believe that there is a fundamental structural problem that can only be addressed by revising the nature of the Board.

The Board of Equalization has an administrative and quasi-judicial role to play in our tax system. I believe that this role becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill when Board members must seek office through a political process. The electoral process leads to a conflict in roles so that community outreach is confused with self-promotion, constituent services create a dynamic where Board members are advocates for those who may eventually have an appeal to be heard, and campaign fund raising will always leave questions as to whether decisions are reached on merit or on candidate support.

Our tax collection system must be fair, equitable, and transparent.

Given the above considerations and subsequent events, I have come to the conclusion that the Board of Equalization should not be an elected body. California must find a new way of managing our tax collection process. In light of my conclusion about the basic structure of the Board of Equalization, it would be hypocritical for me to seek an office which I do not believe should be elected. Therefore, I am today withdrawing my candidacy for the State Board of Equalization.

Rather than running for the Board of Equalization, I will work with those who want to achieve significant and fundamental structural change in our tax system and its oversight.

I am in debt to those who encouraged me to run, to those who have supported my effort, and those who have shared their time and resources on my behalf. I will be eternally grateful for your faith and trust in me. I know that some of you will be disappointed in my decision. I hope that you will come to understand that I take this action after much thought and deep consideration. This decision is right for me and I believe right for California.

Thank you,

Rich Gordon
State Assemblymember (Retired)

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