Sacramento County assessor resigns amid investigations into alleged wrongdoing

Sacramento County has ordered three investigations this year into the office of Assessor Kathleen Kelleher, who resigned Friday and cited health reasons, The Sacramento Bee has learned.

The county hired an outside law firm in January to investigate whether top officials in the Assessor’s Office benefited from lower tax bills, among dozens of other claims. The county also launched two internal probes on May 8 to examine issues that remain undisclosed.

Kelleher, who was first elected to the $168,000 post in 2010, denied all allegations of wrongdoing in an interview with The Bee. She pointed to a state review that found properties owned by her and others in her office were properly appraised.

She faces allegations that a friend on staff lowballed the value of her new pool and that managers in her office received generous appraisals. The Assessor’s Office determines property values in the county for tax collection.

In a Jan. 13 email, county personnel manager Cori Stillson summarized 50 allegations made by employees against Kelleher’s office, including impropriety, harassment, favoritism and management issues. Employees claim they were wrongly passed over for promotions and endured harassment as they pressed forward with complaints of “illegalities and corruption.”

“Some of these things are pretty serious,” said Don Nottoli, chairman of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. “We need to be thorough.”

Kelleher, 59, did not describe her health matter, saying it is a personal issue. She left in the middle of her second term, which runs through January 2019.

Supervisors were told that she cited “health issues,” an explanation Supervisor Phil Serna said lacks necessary detail for an elected official leaving 19 months before her term ends.

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