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November 05, 2015

High Pay at L.A. County Fair Nonprofit Prompts Audit Call

Los Angeles County officials are calling for investigations of the finances and tax status of the nonprofit that runs the annual county fair amid reports that it lost millions of dollars while paying top executives in the high six figures, the Los Angeles Times reports. The county Board of Supervisors ordered an audit Tuesday of the Los Angeles County Fair Association and said it would seek to renegotiate the group's lease on the taxpayer-owned fairgrounds in Pomona.

In tax filings from 2010 to 2013 the association reported losses of $6.25 million. Compensation for James Henwood Jr., chief executive officer, averaged $846,000 in those four years, and wages, bonuses, and incentive pay for Mr. Henwood and four of his managers totaled $8.75 million.

Congresswoman Norma Torres, who represents Pomona, said she will ask the IRS to determine if the organization's nonprofit status should be revoked. She is also seeking an investigation of the group by the California attorney general's office, the Times reports.

Renee Hernandez, an association spokeswoman, said the organization welcomes the county's moves. "We were actually expecting an audit in early 2016. And we have been working with the county on lease negotiations for several years," she said. "We are delighted to see it moving forward."