"Your agency's Cal Card program is in danger of being suspended.... To avoid suspension, all balances and associated interest penalties, less disputed amounts, must be resolved within 30 days from the date of this notice."
The lieutenant governor's office submitted the debt to a state board that decides such matters. The board agreed that it should be paid and submitted the matter to the Legislature.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation authorizing payment of the $30,000 credit card debt.
Bustamante became Assembly speaker in 1997 and was elected lieutenant governor in 1998. His fortunes turned when he fell short in the race for governor in the 2003 recall.
In his campaign for insurance commissioner, Bustamante has struggled to raise money against Poizner, who has put $11 million of his own money into his candidacy.
Sen. Tom McClintock, the Republican running to replace Bustamante as lieutenant governor, said the revelations add to "a growing consensus that Cruz Bustamante was not exactly the ideal lieutenant governor."
"The man at the top always takes responsibility," McClintock said.
John Garamendi, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and outgoing insurance commissioner, would not "draw conclusions" about Bustamante's operation but said he has "systems in place that provide very tight fiscal control and internal audits."
"We monitor and audit in the Department of Insurance, and I'll do the same as lieutenant governor," Garamendi said.
firstname.lastname@example.org For exclusive Web features, including the new Political Muscle blog, go to latimes.com/calpolitics.