CA15: Corbett accuses Swalwell of dishonesty

State Senator Ellen Corbett has accused Rep. Eric Swalwell, whom she’s challenging in this year’s election, of a “lack of integrity and honesty” over pay he accepted for the time in which the federal government was shut down last October.

Yet it seems Swalwell kept his word.

This dustup started when KTVU aired a report this week following up on whether Bay Area lawmakers had kept their word about rejecting or giving away their pay during the shutdown. The report said Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, “sent a letter to the House’s Chief Administrative Officer asking to have his pay withheld. But we found out he did get paid.”

Ellen CorbettCorbett, D-San Leandro, posted a statement on Facebook saying that’s a problem.

“This lack of integrity and honesty by Mr. Swalwell is very disappointing,” she wrote. “The public has a right to expect honesty from their elected officials. Thousands of unemployed Californians who are struggling to make ends meet after their benefits were terminated by Congress deserve better.”

However, in the Sept. 30 letter that KTVU cited, Swalwell had asked that “until federal employees who must work during a federal government shutdown are paid, I not be given my paycheck.” Swalwell announced this in a news release the same day: “I will refuse my paycheck until federal employees who must work during the shutdown are paid.”

And that seems to be what happened. Swalwell’s office noted Thursday that the House’s Chief Administrative Officer had notified Swalwell at the time that his salary would be placed in escrow for any pay periods that occurred while the government was shutdown. The government re-opened Oct. 16, Congress voted to give back pay to all federal workers, and the federal workers were paid that month; on Nov. 1, Swalwell was paid his monthly salary for work performed during October.

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.

  • Elwood

    Pretty desperate, ain’t she?

  • Marga

    Swalwell was disingenuous at best. He sent that letter knowing perfectly well that Congress members get paid only once a month, at the end of the month, so unless the shutdown lasted for a full month – which was unlikely – he would never have to decline his paycheck. Yet, he advertised it to make it seem like he was a populist who felt the employee’s pain.

    His promise was empty, sure, but it was also deceptive. Regardless of the exact wording of his letter, what he suggested to get the brownie points was that he wouldn’t take pay during the shutdown. And then he did.

    At the very least, this means that you will have to examine very carefully anything Swalwell says for possible loopholes.

  • JohnW

    Does she have any dirt on him from his high school social studies teacher?

  • D’you mean Swalwell’s high school economics teacher and mock trial coach, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti?

  • Elwood

    Marga, are you OK?

    Try reading Josh’s story again with your brain engaged.

  • Marga

    what do you think I misunderstood?

  • JohnW

    That’ll do. I was thinking how Governor Christie’s team responded to David Wildstein’s claim that the governor knew about the GW Bridge closure while it was happening and was untruthful about that during his 2-hour press conference. Team Christie came up with the shocking revelation that Wildstein’s social studies teacher back in high school had called him dishonest 25 years ago — which was totally out of context, not to mention a real yawner.

  • @SLtalk:disqus, Congressman Swalwell — along with a number of other members of the Democratic caucus — wrote similar letters, admittedly as part of a “political” pressure tactic to force the Republicans to reopen the government. Congressman Swalwell — unlike State Senator Corbett — met with federal workers in the district during the shutdown to discuss their concerns.

    For Corbett now to say this decision was “dishonest” — based on a misleading KTVU report that’s since been corrected — and, moreover, try to link this in some weird East Bay Citizen fashion to the entirely separate vote on unemployment benefits represents the politics of personal destruction at best and, frankly, outright dishonesty at worst.