A self-styled legislative watchdog group is out with a report on the array of gifts given California's elected officials that spotlights the largesse received by San Diego politicos.
Entitled Gifts, Influence, and Power, A Report on Gifts Given to California's Elected Officials, the report prepared by California Common Cause calls out a practice that has become accepted by most every elected official in the state capitol.
The report draws attention to the widespread practice of accepting expensive and highly influential gifts and behested payments from interest groups who have business before an elected official. Additionally, this report highlights the use of campaign funds to pay for lavish activities voters would not directly attribute as a campaign expense.
In 2012, state elected officials received approximately $216,000 in gifts and travel payments including $41,000 in hotels and lodging; $30,000 for tickets to entertainment and sporting events; and over $100,000 for meals and receptions. Furthermore, state elected officials solicited or received $6.7 million in behested payments.
Among locals featured in the Common Cause report is Democratic state Senator Ben Hueso, ranked 7th in 2012 gifts received, with $4378. Republican Mimi Walters made the top of the list with $15,810.
Schools and universities, both public and private, are major distributors of gifts, the report found.
The University of California Berkeley and Los Angeles, as well as their private counterpart at University of Southern California, all reported giving free tickets to college football and basketball games valued at $1,700.
Other educational entities like San Diego-based Bridgepoint Education gave sporting and concert tickets to three legislators representing the San Diego region.
Among top givers listed by the report were the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club at number six with $3433, ex-state senator Steve Peace's Independent Voter Project, ranking 8th with $2913, and the Barona Indian reservation, number 15th with $1694.