Rock de AT&T It was a penultimate series of sorts: the almost-final round of dining and entertainment freebies accepted by staffers of Democratic state senator Juan Vargas, odds-on favorite to win the 51st District seat in the U.S. Congress this fall. Thanks to communications giant AT&T, Vargas’s chief of staff Jim Anderson got two tickets worth $162 to a Sacramento Kings game on April 5, according to the company’s most recent disclosure filing. Attending the same game at $81 each were Vargas scheduler Stacey Brown and legislative director Ermelinda Ruiz.
Members of the Vargas crew weren’t the only San Diego–based recipients of AT&T’s largesse. On April 17, Democratic assemblyman Ben Hueso showed up for a Maná concert at Sacramento’s Power Balance Pavilion, where he got gratis admission and a parking pass worth $93 at a sold-out performance of the highly popular “Rock en tu idioma” band. Hueso’s consultant Lourdes Jimenez attended with an AT&T ticket worth $81.
Other legislators who got into the Maná bash for free were assembly Democrats Nora Campos, Ricardo Lara, Henry Perea, Roger Hernandez, and Das Williams, along with 16 of their legislative aides. And, as they say on TV, that’s not all. On April 20, Bill Bailey, consultant to GOP senator Bob Dutton, and Rob Flanigan, chief of staff to Republican assemblyman Brian Nestande, got two tickets each to a Kings game, total cost $322.
AT&T reserved some of its bigger gifts for the kids, handing out five tickets in June for Sesame Street Live to Marcus McKinney, special assistant to assembly speaker John Pérez. Those were worth $417. Gail Gronert and Amy Brown, both Pérez assistants, each got four tickets valued at $336 to the event, as did Bob Dutton’s consultant Julie Nystrom.
But AT&T wasn’t yet done gifting. The corporation paid for Ricardo Lara and his field representative Cory Allen to attend the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation media awards in Los Angeles on April 21. That set AT&T back a total of $746. The phone company also shelled out big money for some lucky California pols and their staffers to view the U.S. Open golf tournament at San Francisco’s Olympic Club in June. Republican assemblyman Dan Logue picked up a single ticket worth $325. His colleague Democrat Sandré Swanson got two event passes valued at $420, as did Republican senator Anthony Cannella. In all, during the second quarter of this year, AT&T laid out a total of $42,418 in “activity expenses,” lobbyist-speak for covering the cost of wining, dining, and other forms of entertainment for the company’s legislative friends.