When you buy one of California's special 9/11 memorial license plates, which come emblazoned with the words "We Will Never Forget," you're told that 15% of the money will go to fund scholarships for the victims' children, and that the other 85% will go to fund counterterrorism efforts. But that's not what actually happens, an AP investigation has discovered. Instead, lawmakers and governors continually use the fund, which has collected $15 million so far, for their own ends.
Governors Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger used a combined $3 million to patch over the state's budget deficit, while legislators used millions more on issues like workplace safety and livestock diseases. Only a tiny fraction has gone to scholarships, and about 40% has gone to counterterror training. "I can't believe they would do that," says one plate holder. "We're paying extra for the plate, we're making a point, and it means a lot to us." The plates continue to bring in $1.5 million annually.