LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Congressman Darrell Issa from Washington questions why the port of Los Angeles owns a 73-foot yacht called the Angelena, and why they're using taxpayer money to refurbish it.
"I do sometimes question why they need a VIP yacht at all," says Issa.
KCAL9's Investigative Reporter Davd Goldstein discovered the port using $489,000 in federal taxpayer stimulus money to outfit the Angelena with two hybrid engines.
"This is the American people's money that was borrowed in stimulus," says Issa. "It was supposed to create net new jobs. Could that half a million dollars have been used better? Was this really just show without substance? And we think the Port Authority has a lot to answer for."
Port general manager Geraldine Knatz raced down the hall and avoided Goldstein's questions about the yacht. But she can't dodge congress.
Representative Issa shot off a letter to Knatz after our investigation. As chairman of the committee on government oversight and reform, Issa wants to know why the stimulus money was used.
"This appears to have no net new jobs," says Issa. "And obviously half a million dollars gone."
The Angelena is worth about a million dollars according to a boat broker KCAL9 contacted.
Goldstein obtained the ship's logs and found it's used mainly for VIP tours of the harbor. Much of the time for groups that have nothing to do with the port — like the mayor's interns who have taken two trips in the past two years.
Mayor Villaraigosa says he believes the money was used correctly, but could not say if jobs were created.
When pressed as to whether jobs were created to install the two new engines, Villaraigosa directed Goldstein elsewhere.
"To give you a specific answer to that question, that's a question you've got to ask the port authority," says Villaraigosa.
We asked the port spokesperson that question but he did not respond directly, only saying they look forward to presenting all of the information that the committee has requested, and they will cooperate.
for more features.