San Diego If state assemblyman Joe Coto has been looking particularly relaxed lately, maybe some credit should go to East County's Barona Indians, who anted up $105 for a massage he received while at the Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino on March 23. According to a lobbying disclosure statement filed by the tribe last month, Adriana Ruelas, the San Jose Democrat's chief of staff, also partook of a free rubdown; hers was worth $95. Minnie Santillan, Coto's legislative director, got an $85 facial. Both Coto and his former colleague Richard Alarcón, who left the assembly in March to take a seat on the Los Angeles City Council, got an "in-room Amenity -- Chocolate Covered Strawberries," worth $28.50.
Barona has also been up to some presidential politics, giving $1000 to Barack Obama's campaign on March 23. In addition, the tribe contributed $2500 to Montana Democratic senator Max Baucus, $1000 to Illinois Democratic senator Richard Durbin, and $1000 to California GOP congressman Devin Nunes. ... State politicos who get hungry for a free meal can always count on Sempra Energy, owner of San Diego Gas & Electric, among other ventures, to pick up the tab. In March, South Bay GOP assemblywoman Shirley Horton and chief of staff Nancy Taffet chowed down at the Oceanaire Seafood Room, downtown's gourmet fish house, for a total tab of $90.71. In February, Verizon, the big phone company, shelled out $42.65 for Democratic state senator Christine Kehoe, a loyal friend of the telecom industry, to dine at Sacramento's Lucca Restaurant. Pacific Gas & Electric paid $11.62 each for February "refreshments" consumed by Del Mar GOP assemblyman George Plescia and chief of staff Shaun Flanigan at the DarkHorse Golf Club in Auburn, a Sacramento suburb.