Did you hear the one about the sleazy tax man, Jerome Horton, who got caught secretly and illegally funneling money to a friend in Inglewood for a school board race, then had the nerve today to publicly lecture Californians on following the law and paying “use” taxes for stuff they buy on Amazon.com and online?

How embarrassing that California's state Board of Equalization has as its new chairman Jerome Horton, who investigators say anonymously financed three mass mailings attacking an Inglewood school board opponent of his pal, Alena Cindy Giardina. And more, investigators caught Horton illegally keeping $100,000 from his failed race for the tax board in 2006. And today he's lecturing people in California:

From Horton's press statement today:

California Board of Equalization (BOE) Chairman Jerome E. Horton today reminded taxpayers to report and pay the amount of use tax owed as they file their income tax returns due this year on April 18, 2011.

“Use tax is owed when individuals or businesses in California use, consume, give away or store tangible personal property, for example things you can see, weigh, feel or touch, that they purchase from out-of-state sellers,” Horton explained, “including purchases from online retailers like Amazon.com.”

Did Horton see, weigh, feel or touch that $100,000 he illegally sat on, and failed to return to contributors, after voters refused to place him on the well-respected Board of Equalization in 2006?

Humorously, in 2009 Horton controlled an Inglewood committee called — wait for it — “Citizens to Elect Honest Officials,” into which he secretly poured money to stop the election of educator Renee F. Dorn over his friend Giardina. All the incumbents won school board seats that year, including incumbent Giardina.

That Horton-controlled committee should have been called the “Dishonest Citizens to Elect Officials,” shouldn't it?

Horton continues in his BOE press release today:

Use tax owed is calculated based on the purchase price of the item and sales tax rate in your local area. Sales tax rates in California range from 8.25% – 10.75%, depending upon where you live.

See how into the rules Horton is, for everybody else?

The Fair Political Practices Commission was very, very dubious when Horton tried to wriggle out of this embarrassing situation by claiming that he did not understand one of the best-known anti-corruption laws in California politics, the law that you have to put your name on campaign mailings you pay for.

Kids in public school know about that law.

As the FPPC folks explained in announcing its proposed $13,000 fine against Horton, Horton is well aware of the California laws on campaign funding.

Horton is not only dishonest up to the minute he gets caught funneling secret funds, but he also has loads of trouble telling the truth once caught.

How'd he get on the highly respected Board of Equalization, after California voters rejected him in 2006, anyway?

Oh that's right, Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to fill the remaining term of Judy Chu, who was elected to Congress. Then, using the power of incumbency, Horton convinced voters to re-elect him in November.

Why did the FPPC take so long to go public about what Horton has been up to?

Did the Horton probe get lost in the sauce while the FPPC was simultaneously investigating Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for illegally trolling for $50,000-plus in free tickets?

Voters should have been told about Horton before last November's election. The BOE is supposed to be the most squeaky clean elected bunch in the California, because they are, collectively, the state tax man.

And his own colleagues on the BOE, Michelle Steel, Betty T. Yee, George Runner and California State Controller John Chiang might have wanted to know who he really was, before they elected him as chairman on January 31.

LA Weekly