Ah, sweet charity

An order is an order, especially when it comes from state legislators such as Democrats Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, and Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont. Check out the “behested payments” page on the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission Web site.

It reports contributions solicited by members of the Assembly, Senate and statewide elected officers. These payments are not considered campaign contributions or gifts, but payments made at the “behest” of elected officials for legislative, governmental or charitable purposes. According to the dictionary, the noun “behest” means an authoritative command, order or urgent request.

Stepping right up, donors in 2007 contributed $71,200 to various groups at Hayashi’s “behest,” including $11,200 to a San Francisco-based mental health organization that she founded and $10,000 to Girls Inc. of San Leandro. Contributors included major health organizations, PG&E, and international investment firms.

At the behest of Torrico, whose district includes a portion of Castro Valley, donors such as AT&T, Verizon, a brewery and a winery contributed $55,000 to five organizations. Beneficiaries included Raquel’s Kids of Fremont, founded by Torrico’s wife to provide health insurance to underprivileged children in Fremont, Newark and Union City ($10,000); and $15,000 to an institute backed by the six members (Torrico included) of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

State Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, whose district includes Castro Valley, raised $840,000 for a variety of causes, including $25,000 for the Senate’s Democratic Caucus retreat at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.