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Legal scandals lead Dems to cancel golf fundraiser

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 at 2:55 pm in California State Senate, campaign finance, Darrell Steinberg, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Leland Yee.

Chalk up one immediate victim of the ethical and legal scandals sullying the state Senate: Golf.

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Kevin de Leon, who’ll succeed Steinberg in the top spot at the end of this year, issued a joint statement Tuesday announcing they’ve cancelled this weekend’s Pro Tem Cup – the annual Democratic party fundraiser at which donors give tens of thousands of dollars to join legislative leaders on the links at Torrey Pines in La Jolla – “in light of the very recent and extraordinary breaches of the public trust by three individuals.”

C’mon, guys, SAY THE NAMES! Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, convicted of voter fraud and perjury; Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, indicted on bribery charges; and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, charged last week with trading favors for money and conspiring to traffic arms.

So, no golf!

“In its place, we intend to spend this weekend in our districts having an open and public conversation with our constituents about the work ahead for this Legislature and for this state,” Steinberg and de Leon said in their joint statement. “It’s important that our constituents understand that, despite the appalling acts of a few individuals who – on their own – put self-interest ahead of the public interest, the Senators who are here are here to serve, to do the hard, unglamorous work of fixing tough public-policy problems, and – most important – to do it the right way.”

And that means putting the putters away. Steinberg and de Leon said the modern campaign system makes fundraising “an occupational necessity, but Senate Democrats have always prided themselves on doing it ethically, appropriately, and in full adherence to every rule and regulation governing public disclosure.

“The Pro Tem Cup has long been a successful, signature example of this,” they said. “But these are unprecedented times and they demand that we take a step back and take stock of how we all do the people’s business and balance it against the demands of running for office.”

The lawmakers said Senate leadership in coming weeks will conduct a “rigorous review of existing campaign finance laws and our own internal fundraising practices – and make recommendations on where we can improve as a caucus and a state, with a focus on when, where and how we raise campaign dollars and how we increase public transparency.” They’ll also schedule a public hearing to discuss campaign finance “the constitutional limits on reform.”

“Make no mistake: Senate Democrats fully intend to strengthen our productive, progressive majority this election year and have no intention of unilaterally disarming in terms of campaign resources,” Steinberg and de Leon said. “But this is time for a reality check. And, while the Legislature as a whole cannot be held responsible for the bad acts of three individual members, we do bear a high and profound responsibility to do all we can to repair the excruciating breach of public confidence they left behind.”

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  • Elwood

    “Steinberg and de Leon said the modern campaign system makes fundraising
    “an occupational necessity, but Senate Democrats have always prided
    themselves on doing it ethically, appropriately, and in full adherence
    to every rule and regulation governing public disclosure”

    That’s enough to make a dog laugh!

  • JohnW

    If we went to a unicameral legislature and tripled the number of legislative districts from 80 to 240, candidates could run without having to raise so much cash. And the big donors wouldn’t be able to have so much clout in a district.

  • Elwood

    Good God, 240 of those turkeys? 120 isn’t bad enough? The mind boggles.

  • Willis James

    “State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen.Kevin de Leon, who’ll succeed Steinberg in the top spot at the end of this year, issued a joint statement…blah, blah, blah…”

    On June 10th, 2013, Sen. Kevin de Leon gave $4,100 to the WRIGHT LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, TAXPAYERS FOR ROD

    On November 15, 2013, Sen Darrell Steinberg gave $5,000 to the WRIGHT LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, TAXPAYERS FOR ROD

    Prior to that Sen Darrell Steinberg had given Rod Wright’s defense fund another $10,000
    —————————————————————————
    “Rod Wright has my full support and is presumed innocent,” Steinberg said at the time. “He will remain in his position in the Senate and I intend to personally contribute to his Legal Defense Fund.”
    (http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2010/10/steinberg-gives-10000-to-wrigh.html)
    Steinberg made good on that pledge, contributing$10,000 from his re-election committee to Wright’s legal fund, according to reports filed this week.
    —————————————————————————

    Now Steinberg (with de Leon) says

    “while the Legislature as a whole cannot be held responsible for the bad acts of three individual members, we do bear a high and profound responsibility to do all we can to repair the excruciating breach of public confidence they left behind.”

    One would hope a voter in Steinberg’s district would ask him why he gave $15,000 to Wright’s defense.
    I guess he just didn’t know the real facts of the case.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Aw, what the hell!
    Go ahead and play. Shrimp Boy wouldn’t mind.

  • Jim Davis

    Jason Kinney was hired by the Democrats in the Senate to work with the press, including on this “ethics” issue. And Kinney has been fined by the state and has a tax lien against him for $880,000 courstesy of the IRS, he didn’t pay his taxes. Shows you that these guys aren’t concerned with ethics, they just hate it when they are caught.

  • JohnW

    So, Elwood, I guess you wouldn’t be in favor of the New Hampshire approach: 400 representatives in the lower chamber.

    34 states have more state assembly members than California. And that doesn’t even take population into account.

    Each Assembly member in California represents about 475,000 people. Double that on the Senate side. Each member of Congress (House) represents about 725,000.

    Across all 50 states, the average population per representative in the lower chamber is about 60,000. The median is about 40,000.

    The closest state to California is Texas, with about 175,000 people per assembly member, compared with our 475,000. In fact, only 8 states, including CA, have more than 100,000 people per assembly member.

    But, of course, comparisons with other states are meaningless. We here in CA know best. Call it “California Exceptionalism.” The whole world knows how well-governed we are.

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  • http://www.patinofor20thassembly.com/index.html Jaime Patino

    Josh, you forgot to add that Steinberg is not returning the money already paid by contributors for this tournament. Where are the ethics? We are not having the event, but we are still keeping the money?