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Freebies flooded Assembly offices in 2021, as usual

Golf, Barcelona, Disneyland, and Scotland climate jaunt among local delegation’s gifts received

On December 4, Gonzalez got free tickets to Disneyland worth $438 from the Walt Disney Company.
On December 4, Gonzalez got free tickets to Disneyland worth $438 from the Walt Disney Company.

It’s March, the long-traditional time for an annual accounting of the previous year’s gift receipts by California legislators.

Assembly Republican Marie Waldron of Escondido indulged her passion for golf courtesy of the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies, which gave her $512 worth of “Hotel and golf” on October 19. The same day, insurers AFLAC and the Guardian each kicked in the same.

Ben Hueso traveled all the way to Europe to collect his biggest freebie, getting a trip to Barcelona, Spain for nine days beginning December 7 valued at $2602.

Then, from October 19 through October 22, Waldron got $2899 from the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies, for which she “Made a Speech/Participated in a Panel,” in Monterrey [sic], California, the report says.

In addition, on September 16, the GOP’s Waldron picked up $600 worth of free “Tournament Memorabilia at Annual Leaders Golf Tournament” from the California Tribal Business Alliance, according to the document.

Termed-out state Senate Democrat Ben Hueso traveled all the way to Europe to collect his biggest freebie, getting a trip to Barcelona, Spain for nine days beginning December 7 valued at $2602. Activities included a tour of “transportation facilities” and “meetings with government officials.” The giver was an outfit called Ideate Labs of Los Angeles, according to the disclosure.

Waldron picked up $600 worth of free “Tournament Memorabilia.

“IDEATE California is an issue-specific policy development and public relations company providing results to business, non-profit, private and philanthropic sectors,” the parent company’s website says.

“IDEATE's policy development focuses on developing and implementing local, state, and federal solutions. IDEATE's public relations concentrates on public and private education, business development, building partnerships and coalitions, and political networking.”

“IDEATE connects clients to a broad-based network of federal, state and local decision-makers in government in order to advance issues.”

Ideate’s founder, José Atilio Hernández, “worked for six years in the California State Senate as the Director of Policy and Development for the 20th Senate District.”

Also well-traveled was Assembly Democrat Chris Ward. The Foundation for California’s Technology and Innovation Economy came up with $1250 for a “travel reimbursement related to a policy summit” in Napa on August 6 and 7.

Additionally, the Los Angeles-based non-profit Climate Registry forked over $2623 to send Ward to an international global warming summit in Scotland for nine days beginning November 4. Another L.A. non-profit, Climate Action Reserve, gave the same.

“The whirlwind of travel and hobnobbing comes at a key time for lawmakers: They wrapped up the legislative session on Sept. 10 and won’t return to Sacramento until January, giving them a few months to raise money and make connections ahead of the 2022 elections,” noted CalMatters in a November 4 account of the United Nation’s climate klatch.

“The Climate Action Reserve and the Climate Registry — groups that manage a system for measuring greenhouse gas emissions — will cover some costs for lawmakers to attend the climate conference in Scotland, while [Assembly Speaker Anthony] Rendon will personally pay for other expenses,” the story continued.

“The Assembly — i.e., taxpayers — will pay for a few security staff to attend. Niesha Fritz, a spokeswoman for Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, said five state senators are personally paying for their Scotland trips and security is not part of the Senate delegation.”

Assembly Democrat Akilah Weber remained closer to home, getting a gift worth $760 from the California Chamber of Commerce at a two-day Anaheim event beginning on October 26 at which she “Made a Speech/Participated in a Panel.”

Besides Hueso and Waldron, another four-figure gift recipient was Lorena Gonzalez, who quit her Assembly seat at the beginning of January, following a series of political and health setbacks.

On December 4 of last year, Gonzalez got free tickets to Disneyland worth $438 from the Walt Disney Company, according to her leaving office financial disclosure report, filed February 3.

In addition to the Disneyland tickets, she was paid $1728 by the California Latino Caucus Foundation for which she “Made a Speech/Participated in a Panel” from December 3 to 4.

On August 24, Gonzalez got free Padres tickets worth $287.50 from HNTB Corporation, an architecture firm, the report says. Her spouse, county supervisor Nathan Fletcher, received $260 worth of Padres tickets on June 22 from Amplify Campaigns of Chula Vista, per the disclosure.

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On December 4, Gonzalez got free tickets to Disneyland worth $438 from the Walt Disney Company.
On December 4, Gonzalez got free tickets to Disneyland worth $438 from the Walt Disney Company.

It’s March, the long-traditional time for an annual accounting of the previous year’s gift receipts by California legislators.

Assembly Republican Marie Waldron of Escondido indulged her passion for golf courtesy of the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies, which gave her $512 worth of “Hotel and golf” on October 19. The same day, insurers AFLAC and the Guardian each kicked in the same.

Ben Hueso traveled all the way to Europe to collect his biggest freebie, getting a trip to Barcelona, Spain for nine days beginning December 7 valued at $2602.

Then, from October 19 through October 22, Waldron got $2899 from the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies, for which she “Made a Speech/Participated in a Panel,” in Monterrey [sic], California, the report says.

In addition, on September 16, the GOP’s Waldron picked up $600 worth of free “Tournament Memorabilia at Annual Leaders Golf Tournament” from the California Tribal Business Alliance, according to the document.

Termed-out state Senate Democrat Ben Hueso traveled all the way to Europe to collect his biggest freebie, getting a trip to Barcelona, Spain for nine days beginning December 7 valued at $2602. Activities included a tour of “transportation facilities” and “meetings with government officials.” The giver was an outfit called Ideate Labs of Los Angeles, according to the disclosure.

Waldron picked up $600 worth of free “Tournament Memorabilia.

“IDEATE California is an issue-specific policy development and public relations company providing results to business, non-profit, private and philanthropic sectors,” the parent company’s website says.

“IDEATE's policy development focuses on developing and implementing local, state, and federal solutions. IDEATE's public relations concentrates on public and private education, business development, building partnerships and coalitions, and political networking.”

“IDEATE connects clients to a broad-based network of federal, state and local decision-makers in government in order to advance issues.”

Ideate’s founder, José Atilio Hernández, “worked for six years in the California State Senate as the Director of Policy and Development for the 20th Senate District.”

Also well-traveled was Assembly Democrat Chris Ward. The Foundation for California’s Technology and Innovation Economy came up with $1250 for a “travel reimbursement related to a policy summit” in Napa on August 6 and 7.

Additionally, the Los Angeles-based non-profit Climate Registry forked over $2623 to send Ward to an international global warming summit in Scotland for nine days beginning November 4. Another L.A. non-profit, Climate Action Reserve, gave the same.

“The whirlwind of travel and hobnobbing comes at a key time for lawmakers: They wrapped up the legislative session on Sept. 10 and won’t return to Sacramento until January, giving them a few months to raise money and make connections ahead of the 2022 elections,” noted CalMatters in a November 4 account of the United Nation’s climate klatch.

“The Climate Action Reserve and the Climate Registry — groups that manage a system for measuring greenhouse gas emissions — will cover some costs for lawmakers to attend the climate conference in Scotland, while [Assembly Speaker Anthony] Rendon will personally pay for other expenses,” the story continued.

“The Assembly — i.e., taxpayers — will pay for a few security staff to attend. Niesha Fritz, a spokeswoman for Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, said five state senators are personally paying for their Scotland trips and security is not part of the Senate delegation.”

Assembly Democrat Akilah Weber remained closer to home, getting a gift worth $760 from the California Chamber of Commerce at a two-day Anaheim event beginning on October 26 at which she “Made a Speech/Participated in a Panel.”

Besides Hueso and Waldron, another four-figure gift recipient was Lorena Gonzalez, who quit her Assembly seat at the beginning of January, following a series of political and health setbacks.

On December 4 of last year, Gonzalez got free tickets to Disneyland worth $438 from the Walt Disney Company, according to her leaving office financial disclosure report, filed February 3.

In addition to the Disneyland tickets, she was paid $1728 by the California Latino Caucus Foundation for which she “Made a Speech/Participated in a Panel” from December 3 to 4.

On August 24, Gonzalez got free Padres tickets worth $287.50 from HNTB Corporation, an architecture firm, the report says. Her spouse, county supervisor Nathan Fletcher, received $260 worth of Padres tickets on June 22 from Amplify Campaigns of Chula Vista, per the disclosure.

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