Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, who has filed campaign financial forms indicating she intends to run for either the State Board of Equalization or the 39th state senate seat now held by fellow Democrat Christine Kehoe, accepted some pretty big gifts last year, according to her recently filed statement of personal economic interests. Donors have included some of America’s biggest companies, as well as political committees, a nonprofit organization closely tied to lobbyists, and the University of California.
On June 14, UCSD gave her a one-day package to the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines worth $400. The same day, Gen-Probe Inc., a big biotech outfit, gave her tickets to the golf event worth $362.
In November, the Pacific Policy Research Foundation picked up the tab for what Saldaña listed as four days of “golf” and “meals” worth $883. Each year, the small nonprofit organization stages a November gathering for legislators, lobbyists, and family members at Fairmont Kea Lani, a luxury resort on Maui. In 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that the annual outings are funded with money from the likes of Pacific Gas & Electric, Eli Lilly and Company, Amgen, and liquor giant Diageo. “This foundation provides a forum and addresses issues that PG&E is interested in,” spokeswoman Darlene Chiu told the paper. Another opinion was expressed by Lenny Goldberg, president of Californians for Tax Reform: “This seems like a way for large corporations to launder contributions.… It is improper and it should be illegal.”
Another nonprofit, Altarum Institute of Washington, D.C., paid $1004 for “round trip airfare” for a Saldaña trip from November 20 through 24. According to its website, the organization “integrates objective research and client-centered consulting skills to deliver comprehensive, systems-based solutions that improve health and health care.” Many of its clients are government agencies.
The D.C.-based nonprofit Women in Government, which also receives major corporate money, paid $906 for a two-day September trip to the nation’s capital.