Twenty Working Days Left in the Legislative Session But Plenty of Time for Fundraisers


There are 98 fundraisers scheduled for the remainder of the legislative session, which begins August 15.

That’s 98 — so far.

Critics say lawmakers are shamelessly shaking down well-heeled interest groups at a time when the fate of legislation those groups care about depend on the votes of the contribution-soliciting politicians.

Lawmakers counter that they are leaving Sacramento within a few days and won’t return for the rest of the year. Ergo, the final weeks of session offer the most convenient time to Hoover up as many large contributions as possible before blowing town.

Session ends on September 9. Dividing 98 events by 20 working days equals 4.9 fundraisers each day.

But the ebb and flow of fundraisers is never evenly paced. It takes a little time to get back in the groove.

For example, there’s only one fundraiser on August 15, the first day back after the month-long summer recess. Then three on August 16, climbing to seven on the 17th.

Back down to three on Thursday August 18, suggesting whatever work lawmakers do Friday August 19 will occur in their districts and not on the Assembly floor. If legislators were in town, there’d be fundraisers scheduled.

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, a Los Angeles Democrat who chairs the lower house’s Appropriations Committee, is sticking around though.

He’s trying to raise $2,000-a-head for something called the Reform California Ballot Measure Committee.

Worthies who throw down the $2K get dinner at Ella’s, a swanky downtown eatery, and a ticket to join Fuentes at a performance by comedian Bill Maher at the nearby Community Theater.

This says a lot for Fuentes since Maher routinely hurls barbs at the idiocy, hypocrisy and general fecklessness of elected officials: national, state and local.

At first blush, the following week seems slow as well. Just three events on August 22.

But then gears shift into high. On August 23, 19 events are scheduled. The following day, 15.

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, a San Francisco Democrat, offers a trip to AT&T Park to see the Giants thrash the San Diego Padres on the 23rd.

That isn’t the outcome sought by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, who is co-sponsoring the event. Either or preferably both lawmakers welcome a $2,000 contribution.

So do GOP Assemblymen Katcho Achadjian of San Luis Obispo and Bill Berryhill of Stockton who, for $2,000, also extend the pleasure of their company at the same ballgame. Their bus leaves for San Francisco at 4:30 pm – 30 minutes before the bus departs for Ma’s event. Maybe they’re more cautious because they’re Republicans.

Despite being a Democrat, Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Burbank has his bus to the Giants game leaving at 4:30 pm as well. Just as it is with his other Assembly colleagues, sitting with him costs $2,000.

Minimum expenditure to attend every event on August 23 is $22,100 assuming only one $2,000 contribution each to two rather than all four of the lawmakers co-sponsoring Giants excursions.

The following week there’s seven fundraisers on August 29, nine the following day and 20 on August 31. Unlike the prior Wednesday, there are no out-of-town events so while difficult and a wallet-lightening $25,900, a lobbyist could swing all seven cocktail receptions, seven lunches, five breakfasts and one dinner. Assuming they would want to.

While speculation, there’s probably only one dinner because that sharply increases overhead. Maybe it’s a $2,000-per-person event to compensate.




Filed under: Fundraising

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