A Toyota Highlander driven by two California politicians has cost state taxpayers over $400,000 in less than four years, according to Monday’s San Francisco Chronicle.
The jinxed car, a $41,078 Hybrid Highlander, was leased by former state Sen. Carole Migden in 2007. She traded in a two-year old Cadillac STS for the so-called green vehicle.
While driving to a meeting with a former assemblyman, she was reportedly driving somewhat erratically, first sideswiping a guardrail, and later plowing into the rear end of a Honda at a stoplight.
Migden claimed that her cell phone rang, and when she reached for it, she ran into the back of the car that had stopped at the light. Although she was meeting with the assemblyman about an endorsement for her in an upcoming election, which she lost, she claimed she was on state business.
The cost of repair to her vehicle was $9,681, and the Honda’s repair bill was $16,798. To settle the lawsuit filed by the other driver, who received only minor injuries, the state paid $335,000. Total cost: $361,479.
Critics questioned the contention that she was on state business, but the state paid the costs anyways.
After Migden lost her re-election bid, the car went into the state’s carpool and was reassigned to Sen. Leland Yee. While driving Yee to the airport in the car, Yee’s wife, Maxine, had a one-car accident while driving the car at unsafe speeds, according to the Highway Patrol.
The repair bill this time came to a whopping $22,897.
In both cases, the taxpayers were on the hook for the cost of the erratic driving, since the state self-insures its drivers.
Fortunately, both drivers suffered no serious injuries. Whether that can be said for California taxpayers is another matter considering the final bill for damages thus far on the vehicle totals $384,376. Adding in the purchase price of the Toyota gets the grand total up to $425,454.
Now that’s an expensive car!
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle