California taxpayers paid more than $12,000 due to an accident Alan Nakanishi was in when he served in the Assembly, according to the California Department of General Services' department spokesman Eric Lamoureux.
Additionally, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, whose district includes Galt and Thornton, filed a $2,008 claim on Sept. 15, 2010 after her state-issued car was hit while parked, Lamoureux said.
Taxpayers paid more than three-quarters of a million dollars for 122 insurance claims filed by legislators in from 2007 to 2010.
The Sacramento Bee reported Thursday that the California Citizens Compensation Commission voted to eliminate state-issued cars for legislators, effective the first week of December. Instead, legislators will get a $300 monthly car allowance to drive their own vehicles, The Bee reported.
Nakanishi's accident took place in 2007 on Ham Lane near the former Lakewood Drugs, Lamoureux and Nakanishi said.
Nakanishi, who termed out of the Assembly in 2008 and is now a Lodi councilman, said in a telephone interview that he was headed to his Lodi office on West Pine Street — while on official state business — when an oncoming car that was going too fast hit his vehicle on the right side.
Nakanishi made a left turn in front of the oncoming car. An investigation by the Assembly Rules Committee determined that Nakanishi made an unsafe turn.
"I didn't think I was at fault," Nakanishi said.
Nevertheless, taxpayers footed the bill for $12,461.
Legislators involved in an accident, or if their state-approved car is vandalized, must file a claim with the Rules Committee of the Assembly or State Senate — whichever house the legislator happens to serve, Lamoureux said.
The Rules Committee staff investigates the claim, and if it appears to be valid, it authorizes the vehicle to be sent to an auto repair or body shop, usually in the legislator's district. Then it's forwarded to the Department of General Services for payment through the state's self-insurance fund unless the other party is at fault. Then money is collected from the other driver's insurance company, Lamoureux said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.