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Kern County Fair Board addresses state audit and transparency during board meeting

Posted at 5:44 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 20:44:22-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern County Fair Board said they have been as transparent as they can be when it comes to a state audit, linked to the fair, that alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars were mismanaged from 2016 through 2018.

"We've been completely transparent for a while, or since our board has been in-place," said board member Blodgie Rodriguez.

The board meeting was focused on requesting emergency funds to keep the Kern County Fair operational. However, it took a turn towards the end when board financial officer Lucas Espericueta brought up recent reports regarding an anonymous state audit.

According to the audit, receipts showed an unnamed county fair grossly mismanaged state resources. 23ABC's iTeam obtained Las Vegas restaurant receipts dated November of 2017 that were signed by Kern County Fair President and CEO Mike Olcott, matching the receipts shown in the audit.

Receipts reveal Kern County Fair officials spent thousands at Las Vegas restaurants

"I think what our responses to those audits are, 'We can't say anything,' because we couldn't. We were handcuffed not to say anything," Espericueta said during the board meeting.

Rodriguez responded saying they still could not say anything.

"I can just hear the media take this story and run," Espericueta said."Make this in sarcasm: you know the fair is doing all this bad stuff, and now here the are asking for money, asking for help. And I would hate to see that because I know it's not that way."

Espericueta said he wished they could speak and be transparent regarding the audit, but several board members responded that they could not. "The rules to the audit still apply to all fairs," said Olcott said.

"I would really encourage us as a fair to be real transparent during this time, because I think the people need to know all this stuff," Espericueta said. "I don't think the common populous with the media, with their stories on our audit, I don't think they think [we're transparent]."

According to the Kern County District Attorney's Office, the fair is still under investigation and no decision has been made yet whether criminal charges will be filed.