Who Says the Legislature Isn’t Doing Anything?

The sign next to the doors of Governor’s Schwarzenegger’s Capitol office and the graphic on his official State of California webpage are not only misuses of a minuscule amount of public funds for political purposes, they’re wildly inaccurate.

“Legislature’s Failure to Act” is bannered over a numerical tally of the days that have passed since the GOP governor called lawmakers into special session last November to address the state’s monstrous budget problems. Beneath is an cumulative electronic tally of the money allegedly lost each day a budget isn’t passed.  

The governor couldn’t be more wrong. The Legislature is up to all kinds of stuff.  

On January 24, Assemblyman Kevin de Leon, chair of the lower house’s Appropriations Committee and a speaker wanna-be, is hosting an event at the Staples Center called “Believing in a Better California.” 

And what trumpets belief in a better California louder than dumping $5,000 into de Leon’s campaign coffers for the privilege of watching a fight between Sugar Shane Mosely and Antonio Margarito. 

On January 27, Assemblyman Jeff Miller extends his hand for a $1,000-a-plate lunch to retire his campaign debt. 

Speaker Karen Bass hosts dinner that evening at The Kitchen restaurant for $5,000. 

Senate GOP Leader Dave Cogdill hopes California employers and interest groups will join him in stimulating Arizona’s economy by kicking down $10,000 for golf January 30 in Scottsdale. The money goes to the California Republican Party. 

Not to belabor the point but these would be the same guys who can’t vote for a budget because it has tax increases that hurt the economy. The same guys championing economic stimulus and job creation and they think its better for Californians to spend money in Arizona rather than, say, Pebble Beach, Palm Springs, Ojai or even at that swanky new course out at Cache Creek. 

At least the Speaker’s Cup, the annual golf fund-raiser underwritten by AT&T for $100,000 or more, recognizes the grim economic times this state faces. 

Last year, the “Ultimate Package” – golf for four for two days, accommodations for four for two nights, dinner for eight for two nights, spa treatments for the non-golfers and special commemorative gifts – cost $70,000. 

This year, Speaker Bass and the Democratic Party have elected to lower that to $60,000. Times must really be brutal. 

And with all due respect to GOP lawmakers, those Democrats who aren’t doing enough to stimulate the economy are holding their event at Pebble Beach, which besides being in California pretty much kicks Scottsdale’s butt six ways from Sunday. 

Legislators are also busy enjoying something many Californians will go without this year, a cost-of-living increase. 

Every couple years, an inflator kicks in which boosts the maximum contribution lawmakers can seek. This inflator is not unlike the cost-of-living increase welfare recipients and the state’s aged, blind and disabled won’t be getting under the budget plan Democrats put forward in December. 

When the law governing campaign contribution limits went into effect, the maximum was $3,000 for politically active groups with a lot of individual members like unions and associations. 

Then it climbed to $3,300. Then $3,600 and now, this year, $3,900. 

It’s important for lawmakers to be aware of changes in the law. Sen. Rod Wright sure is.

The Los Angeles Democrat, chair of the upper house’s utilities and commerce committee, invites contributors to a January 27 breakfast: $1,300 for an individual; $3,900 to be a sponsor. 

GOP Assemblyman John Anderson also goes to the head of the class. His February 25 reception at a local sushi establishment says $3,900 for a sponsor and $1,500 for an individual. 

Again, with respect, in these lean economic times where special interest chiselers must carefully weigh which event to spend their scarce dollars on, there’s probably a bigger bang for the buck laying $1,300 on a Senate committee chair than $1,500 on a member of the always out-voted GOP minority. 

But of course there is no connection between campaign contributions and legislative action. That would be a felony and stuff. 

In Assemblyman Anderson’s defense, his Republican Caucus biography says: 

“For Joel, each day is spent in service to honor the things he values most — his family and his country. The core values that he brings to government is (sic) his belief in smaller government, lower taxes, personal responsibility, and a strong and secure border.” 

In a showing of great humility, Sen. Dave Cox hopes givers will shell out $1,500 for a February 17 lunch celebrating “the birthdays of Lincoln, Washington and Senator Dave Cox.” 

Lest one forget the most important of the three, Sen. Cox’s name is in boldface and a type size several times larger than Lincoln or Washington. 

Oddly, $3,900 appears nowhere on the invitation. Does Sen. Cox believe it is implicit? 

Assemblyman Dan Logue, a Chico Republican, isn’t taking any chances: “$3,900 Sponsor/ $1,500 Individual.”

Rod Wright is looking more like Philene’s Bargain Basement all the time. 

Assemblyman Logue, however, does offer givers one choice. Their money can go to debt retirement of his 2008 race or aid his 2010 primary election. 

His Assembly Republican Caucus biography notes that Logue is a “fiscal conservative and staunch opponent of high taxation and government waste” who “worked tirelessly to bring his beliefs in limited government and free enterprise to county government.” 

(Editor’s Note: On the official Assembly homepage, newly elected Democratic lawmakers have bios but, as of yet, none of the GOP freshman do. They have biographys on the Republican Caucus homepage, however. Just one of those coincidences that happen all the time in politics, no doubt.) 

Sorry to say, Assemblyman Danny Gilmore, a freshman Fresno Republican, is behind the curve. A sponsor at his February 17 reception only gets hit up for $3,600. That’s yesterday’s news, Danny Boy. Better call your fundraiser. 

Gilmore is not alone. Freshman GOP Assemblyman Steve Knight needs to dash off an e-mail to his fundraiser as well. 

On an invitation designed to look like a beer label with the name “Knightly Brew” above a faux coat of arms, donors can join the new state lawmaker’s “Royal Court” for just $3,600. “King’s Cup” is $1,800 and “Knighthood” a steal at $1,000. 

There’s nothing quite like a little campaign-contribution-grubbing humor. 

In weighing Knighthood, King’s Cup or Royal Court, consider this: 

“As a member of the State Assembly, Steve will work to cut the tax burden on California families and businesses and vote against any effort to increase taxes. He will fight to protect our community’s values by supporting the traditional family, protecting Second Amendment rights and working to remove entitlements and benefits that provide incentives for illegal aliens,” his caucus biography informs. 

New GOP Assemblywoman Connie Conway, a former Tulare County supervisor, didn’t get the $3,900 memo either. She’s still at $3,600. But Republican Assemblyman Ted Gaines of Roseville, whose invitation to ski Squaw Valley on February 17 asks donors to RSVP to the same place as Conway’s, is asking for $3,900. 

Veteran Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, a Sonoma Democrat in her third term, should know better – a “Valentine Sponsor” at her February 9 “pre-Valentine’s Celebration” only costs $3,200. 

Freshman Democratic Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada is dialed in. Year of the Ox celebration at Dragonfly Restaurant, Sponsor: $3,900. Freshman Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a San Diego Republican, is also a proud $3,900 Club member. 

Other Democratic members already joining the $3,900 Club this year: Assembly members Joe Coto, Mike Eng, Wes Chesbro, Ted Lieu, Fiona Ma and Mary Hayashi. 

So, see, governor, you ought to take your sign down. The Legislature is doing plenty. 






Filed under: Venting

1 Comment »

  1. So many meals so little time, no wonder my cousin Gus and I are so big. We need a law that requires a SN&R published review before a FPPC reportable fundraiser can be hosted. The health of the peoples lobbying corps is at stake.

    Comment by Wally Webgas — 1.23.2009 @ 6:08 am

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