Central Coast state Sen. Sam Blakeslee says he will personally buy the $40,000 Lincoln MKZ hybrid that has brought him unwanted — and, to him, unfair — headlines implying that he is wasting tax dollars on perks.
In an interview with The Tribune on Friday morning, Blakeslee also said he never took possession of the controversial vehicle, one of dozens available to legislators.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday that Blakeslee ordered the car in November, three months after he was sworn in as state senator for the 15th District, replacing Abel Maldonado, and then canceled the request.
Blakeslee expanded on that Friday, saying “perceptions are important, and my reputation is very important.”
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In November, he said, he asked his staff to choose a vehicle, with his only provisos being that it be an American vehicle, in good condition and get good gas mileage. The state has a long-time practice of making vehicles available to legislators to enable them to get back to their districts.
After Blakeslee’s staff ordered the Lincoln, Blakeslee got wind that the state compensation commission might be about to reduce legislators’ vehicle allowance. The commission already had lowered legislators’ salaries.
Concerned that the state would then have to sell a car that was less than a year old — years before it was fully depreciated — Blakeslee said he canceled the order in early February.
He never took possession of the car, he said. The state told his staff “we’ll take care of it,” Blakeslee said. He learned later that the car was being used by state security personnel at the Capitol.
Blakeslee said he will pay the original price of the Lincoln hybrid.