Don Bauder 7:49 p.m., May 22
The many alleged conflicts of interest of Democratic state Sen. Juan Vargas — running for the congressional seat currently held by fellow Democrat Bob Filner, who is now seeking to become mayor of San Diego — have long been a topic for California newspapers.
Back in April 2006, for example, when Vargas was in the assembly, the San Diego Union-Tribune ran a lengthy piece questioning his campaign ties to the insurance business, in which he denied that the hundreds of thousands of dollars in political money he had received from the industry influenced his votes and actions in any way.
After he left the assembly, Vargas got a job as a government relations man with a big insurance company, which he quit just prior to this year's congressional bid.
This morning, an editorial in the Sacramento Bee, headlined "Special interest bills bloom in election season," goes after Vargas for carrying legislation to restore funding for the California Justice Department's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, abolished amid last year's budget cuts.
Calling the bill "ill-conceived," the Bee goes on to note, "The Association of Special Agents, which represents Department of Justice agents, is sponsoring the legislation.
"The special agents are part of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, a public employees union.
"Both groups have endorsed Vargas' 2012 congressional campaign."
The paper adds, "The Association of Special Agents sued in state court seeking to force the state to restore funding and alleged that it was the victim of political retribution.
"The association lost in February.
"Two weeks later, the agents turned to a friendly legislator in the person of Vargas."
According to the Bee, Vargas recently appeared before a senate committee and "darkly warned about transnational gangs' and ominously said 'beheadings' that take place south of the border could become a reality in the border district he represents.
"Gangs are a problem, as is the havoc they wreak.
"But Vargas' maneuver has little to do with public safety and much to do with campaigns, as happens so often in election years."