Don Perata probe makes the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal carried an article today (subscription required) about how concern over an allegedly imminent federal corruption indictment might be tripping up state Senate President Don Perata’s efforts to face down legislative Republicans and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the state budget.

As I wrote earlier this week, it’s 44 months with no charges since the probe of the Oakland Democrat began. The WSJ article does have one piece of information that seems new to me, however, and it’s way down in the very last paragraph:

The investigation gained momentum over the past year, as prosecutors gathered information from political consultant Sandi Polka, a longtime ally of Mr. Perata, said people close to the defense. They said prosecutors gave her immunity from prosecution so she couldn’t invoke her Fifth Amendment right to not testify. Ms. Polka and her lawyer didn’t return calls seeking comment.

As I pointed out Monday, the campaign for Proposition 93 — the term-limit-reform measure backed by Perata and then-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles — paid Polka more than $116,000 from August 2007 through March, and in April and May, the Perata-initiated campaign to recall state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, paid Polka about $78,000.

The East Bay Express’ Bob Gammon — the most dedicated Perata-watcher ever — hypothesized in May that perhaps the whole Denham-recall fiasco was meant as a way to throw money to Polka and perhaps to others in his circle of family and friends. Makes you wonder what Polka has been telling the feds, and whether Perata has been feeling obliged to make sure her firm keeps getting steady work…

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.