California authorities have staged a surprise raid on the home of Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig in connection with an investigation of possible felonious misuse of public funds.
Mr. Honig, a Democrat, denied in an interview last week any wrongdoing and dismissed the search as a political maneuver by the Republican state attorney general, Daniel E. Lungren.
Armed with a search warrant, investigators for Mr. Lungren entered Mr. Honig’s San Francisco home on Oct. 17 and seized financial records from a nonprofit consulting firm operated there by Mr. Honig’s wife, Nancy.
A spokeswoman for the attorney general last week said the warrant specifically authorized investigators to search the offices of Ms. Honig’s Quality Education Project, which promotes parental involvement in education.
The warrant used to enter the Honigs’ home remained sealed last week, and the spokeswoman for the attorney general refused additional comment on the search, saying only that it was part of an “ongoing investigation.”
In addition to the state inquiry, the California Department of Education also is being audited by the inspector general’s office within the U.S. Education Department to determine if federal funds allocated to the state have been spent properly in connection with the Q.E.P. (See Education Week, Oct. 2, 1991 .)
Grants to Consultants Eyed
The state probe centers on alleged misappropriation of federal funds disbursed by the state and the possible misuse of such funds to benefit the q.E.P., according to an article in the Los Angeles Times that quoted “sources close to the investigation.”
Mr. Honig said the state investigation appeared to focus on more than $200,000 in grants of federal funds to consultants who ran Q.E.P. projects in several school districts from 1985 to 1988.
Mr. Honig maintained that no state money ever went to the Q.E.P. and said he “was always straightforward” in his dealings with his wife’s firm.
“There really is no criminal activity here,” Mr. Honig said.
“If there is justice in the world,” he said, “it will turn out that they forget about this and let us do our jobs.”
Ms. Honig said in an interview that the search of their house was “a terrible misuse of power.”
Mr. Honig also issued a press release demanding an apology from Attorney General Lungren for the “needless harassment” of a search that was “pure political grand standing at its worst.”
The search “was a very deliberate, staged event, which was apparently leaked to the press by Lungren’s office,” Mr. Honig said, asserting that a Times reporter called his office for comment even as the raid was going On.
“For eight people, three of whom carried guns, to invade our home to get information about the Quality Education Project was completely uncalled for and unnecessary,” Mr. Honig asserted, adding that all of the information seized by the investigators was made freely available to them in previous months.
Persons convicted of the felony charge of misappropriation of state funds can be sentenced to a maximum jail term of from two to four years and disqualified from holding public office.
A version of this article appeared in the October 30, 1991 edition of Education Week as Honigs’ Home Raided in Probe of Use of Public Funds