Virginia Ellis, who exposed California government scandal for the L.A. Times, dies at 77

Virginia Ellis, a trailblazing journalist whose government accountability reporting spanned four decades and culminated in award-winning Los Angeles Times reporting on secret diversions of public funds into the political operations of California’s insurance commissioner and led to his resignation, died Thursday.

She was 77.

Ellis served as the Sacramento bureau chief for The Times for seven years until her retirement in 2008 but spent more than four decades in journalism. She joined the newspaper in the late 1980s after covering statehouses in Florida and Texas.

“She thought that government should play an important role in people’s lives and that someone should be making sure that the role was carried out properly,” said her son, Barry Schnitt. “She had a nose for finding out when it wasn’t and explaining why.”

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