Proposition 209 Postscript: How the Unqualified Thrive in Government
In 1996, when California voters passed Proposition 209, they did not end affirmative action. The California Civil Rights Initiative only prohibited the use of racial and ethnic preferences in state employment, education and contracting. Despite the new law, such preferences continued.
In 2009, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hired Puerto Rico native Ana Matosantos as state finance director. With only a BA in political science and feminist studies, she was clearly unqualified but billed as the first “Latina” to hold the job. In 2011 Matosantos was busted for drunk driving and offered to resign, but governor Jerry Brown kept her on the job. She served nearly four years as Brown’s chief budget advisor and her tenure was marked by “multibillion-dollar shortfalls.” Covered California, the state’s wholly owned subsidiary of Obamacare, then took on Matosantos at $120,000 for a six-month stint.
In 2016, the president of the United States appointed Matosantos to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, created by the 2016 PROMESA legislation. Matosantos was the pick of House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi. It was not disclosed that the former California finance director is also on the board of the Matosantos Commercial Corporation,” owned by her family, with deep interests in the energy business.
According to Christopher D. Coursen, former counsel of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, the Oversight Board “has been a complete failure and has not achieved anything of significance.” President Trump and Congress need to replace members “clearly unfit to serve” with those dedicated to restoring fiscal responsibility in Puerto Rico. “Given the recent evidence of blatant conflicts of interest of Ana Matosantos,” Coursen says, “her removal seems like the best place to start. And that review and her subsequent removal needs to happen now.”
That was in April. In August, Ana Matosantos was still on the Board and by all indications, she remains a member, despite appeals to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remove her. This is what happens when unqualified individuals get preference for government positions, but nepotism is also in play. As Coursen notes, the Board’s chief of staff is Rosemarie Vicarrondo-Carrion, cousin of Board chairman Jose Carrion. Rosemarie’s “taxpayer-funded annual salary is $120,000, over six times the salary of the average Puerto Rican.”
K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.