NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Money promised to Girl Scouts San Diego by local politician never delivered

The funding was to help the organization with background checks.
Girl Scouts of San Diego.jpg
Posted at 6:03 PM, Jul 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-25 10:25:42-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Team 10 has uncovered that half a million dollars promised to Girl Scouts San Diego by a former assemblymember was never delivered, leaving the organization left to find another way to pay for a critical service.

As part of a child abuse prevention law that went into effect last year, stronger background checks are required for volunteers and staff that work with youth organizations in California.

That's something Girl Scouts San Diego Carol Dedrich agrees with.

“Safety is paramount to everything we do because we work with youth,” Dedrich said. “It’s critical.”

That deeper background check is more expensive. It includes live scan fingerprinting, which is like the digital version of inked fingerprinting.

“In the past, the background check was $6.25. Now they're over $40, and that doesn't include all the administrative costs that falls on us to not only track the information but to market it to our volunteers to make sure they get the screening done,” Dedrich said.

The organization covers the cost of the background check. “We're trying to make it easier on the volunteer to be a part of us this because the more volunteers we have, the more girls we can reach,” she said.

Girl Scouts San Diego has about 9,000 volunteers Last year, they wrote letters to government leaders, asking for help with these background check costs.

According to a news release, then-Assemblymember Randy Voepel from the 71st Assembly District answered the call after his office advocated for state budget funds.

In July 2022, ABC 10News covered the news conference with Voepel and the Girl Scouts. He held a check presentation, promising $500,000 to the organization.

“Remember now, this check I'm presenting is not my money. It's your tax money,” Voepel said during the presentation.

However, Team 10 learned Voepel never followed through with his promises.

In November, about four months after the check presentation, his former Chief of Staff told Team 10 they were "waiting for a more definite timeline" on when the Girl Scouts would get that money.

"There were some last-minute changes to the budget and that pushed things out a bit,” she wrote in an email.

A few days after that, Voepel lost his reelection bid. Voepel’s term ended Dec. 5.

The Girl Scouts also lost, with that money important for their mission.

“The expense is a little bit challenging,” Dedrich said.

“It's extraordinary. Absolutely unbelievable this has happened,” said political expert Bob Stern.

Stern said there's likely no criminal or civil liability for Voepel. However, the optics are not good.

Politicians love to do this because they get great press. Not to follow through is terrible press. It's a good thing he's a former legislator because he would be in deep trouble I would think,” Stern said.

Team 10 attempted to reach Voepel multiple times. A family member who answered the door at his home said he was not available.

Dietrich wants to look to the future. Since the money did not come through, she said they worked together with other Girl Scout councils throughout California.

“By working together, we delayed the time when everything needed to be implemented and we also secured funding from the Department of of Justice,” Dedrich said.

 The DOJ confirmed that the reimbursement goes through June 2025 for $500,000—the same amount Voepel promised.

For Dedrich, what happened is a real-life lesson for young girls.

“When we see a challenge, we come together to figure out how to solve that challenge,” she said.