San Diego It's conflict-of-interest filing time again for state legislators, and as usual, financial disclosures by members of the local delegation reveal that many have been living high on the hog. Take 80th District Republican assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, who's announced her intention to run for the seat of soon-to-be-termed-out senator Denise Ducheny. Among the freebies Garcia picked up last year were $148.51 in food and drink from 21st Century Insurance; $296 in "tickets and lodging" from Pacific Life Insurance; $306.60 for a "speaking engagement and award acceptance at conference" from the California Mobilehome Parkowners Alliance; and a $3375 trip to Israel from the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Ducheny herself picked up a $290 ticket to a Charger game from San Diego Harbor Excursion and a $187.11 dinner from the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. She also bagged a $6500 July trip to France from the French Embassy for a "fact finding mission on high speed rail." Then in November she was off to Japan on a $3100 trip including "hotel and meals for tour of Shinkansen high speed train and meeting with officials." The taxpayer-funded California High-Speed Rail Authority paid for that.
Fellow senate Democrat Chris Kehoe also hit the road, spending the second week of December on a "study travel project to the Netherlands and Ireland." The $11,500 junket was paid for by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, a foundation backed by some of the biggest special interests in the state capital, including Chevron, PG&E, and Sempra, according to a recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle. The paper noted that the three corporations spent almost $4 million lobbying the legislature last year.
Democratic assemblywoman Mary Salas of Chula Vista didn't do nearly as well as Kehoe, picking up a $122.45 dinner from the L.A. law firm of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson and admission to a reception by the California Democratic Party valued at $277. Her assembly colleague Lori Saldaña, on the other hand, was a frequent free rider; from the California Latino Leadership Fund Saldaña got wine worth $64.50, a $94.65 robe, and a $152 dinner. General Motors gave her a $122.69 dinner. She got a $50 gift bag and $30 in food from the American Heart Association and two tickets worth $400 from Cirque du Soleil. (Saldaña's disclosure says that she reimbursed the Montreal performance group $40 for that one.) She also got $12,500 from the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy for a "South America Study Travel Project" in November.
Republicans stuck closer to home than the Democrats, but they still managed to rake in plenty of meals, drink, receptions, and tickets. In the case of GOP senator Dennis Hollingsworth, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians spent $197, covering Hollingsworth's dinner with his wife and tickets to a Sacramento Kings game. An outfit called ACC Capital Holdings treated the couple to a $128 wine tasting and two baseball tickets worth $104. Hollingsworth received a $101 "wine tasting" from 21st Century Insurance, dinner worth 162.39 and baseball tickets worth $65 from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, and a $300 "football reception" from Pacific Life. The Golden Ranch Plantation in Gheens, Louisiana, which features alligator and quail hunting, gave him "lodging, meals & educational tour" worth $300, and the Walt Disney Corporation provided four tickets to Disneyland worth $332.
Assemblywoman Shirley Horton got a $152.20 dinner from the Recording Industry Association of America, the group trying to stamp out MP3 file sharing. Democratic Speaker Fabian Núñez gave her a $90 bottle of wine.