Torrico signs on as counsel to lobbying firm

Former Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico has signed on as a consultant with a prominent Sacramento lobbying firm.

Alberto Torrico“It’s a great firm with a great reputation,” Torrico, 42, said Wednesday afternoon of Capitol Advocacy, where he’s newly “of counsel” to clients such as Apple, Chevron, American Airlines, Pepsico, Yahoo! and dozens of others. “I really enjoyed working with them when I was in the Legislature.”

Torrico, who now splits his time between Newark and West Sacramento, represented the 20th Assembly District from 2004 until he was term-limited out of office in 2010, the same year he finished second in the Democratic primary for attorney general. A labor lawyer, he was appointed early last year by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

“The unemployment appeals board takes up the bulk of my time any given day,” he said, with dozens of cases landing on his desk at a time in return for a $128,000 annual salary. “Contrary to popular belief and popular reporting, it’s a very labor intensive job where in many instances we’re deciding the fate of people’s homes and livelihoods.”

But even with that workload as well as his own law practice, he believes he’ll find the time to give Capitol Advoacy’s clients “advice on the inner workings of the Legislature” and still be able to spend more time with his family than he did while serving as Majority Leader and running for attorney general.

Besides, he said, the appeals board appointment lasts just four years. “I have to prepare for the next stage of my life, with a wife and two young kids.”

Torrico said he’s “very much enjoying life out of office” but is “looking forward, to be honest with you, to visiting with some of my old colleagues” in the Legislature. He’s not a registered lobbyist, he noted, so he’ll just be advising the firm’s clients and perhaps on occasion introducing them to lawmakers. “The lobbying will be left to others.”


Alberto Torrico named to state appeals board

Former Assemblyman Alberto Torrico has been named to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board – a panel consisting wholly of former lawmakers, each earning a $128,109 annual salary – by Assembly Speaker John Perez.

Torrico, 41, of Newark, was a labor lawyer before serving in the Assembly; he placed second in last year’s Democratic primary for state attorney general, and was term-limited out of the Assembly at year’s end.

“I’m honored that the Speaker has asked me to serve,” Torrico said Thursday afternoon, noting his background in labor law should serve him well in this post. He said it’s “very important work,” especially at a time when the state’s unemployment rate is so high.

The board’s administrative law judges hear first-level appeals of the Employment Development Department’s determinations on unemployment and disability benefit claims; those judges’ rulings can then be appealed to board members, who have authority to affirm, reverse or modify the rulings.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month named two termed-out Republican lawmakers – senators Dennis Hollingsworth and Roy Ashburn – to the board. Former state Senator and 2010 Alameda County supervisorial candidate Liz Figueroa just finished her term on the board.


More campaign finance fun: Lt.Gov. and AG

In the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom far outpaced Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn in fundraising during this period from March 18 to May 22. Newsom raised $792,311 and spent $453,291, finishing the period with $770,776 cash on hand; Hahn raised $336,331 and spent $316,670, finishing the period with $315,430 cash on hand.

Mike Trujillo, Hahn’s campaign adviser, called me tonight to note that the two candidates are more evenly matched if you look at contributions since their campaigns began – it looks to me as if Newsom’s at about $1.06 million to Hahn’s $898,000, by that measure – and that about $200,000 of Newsom’s cash on hand is earmarked for November’s general election, while all but $9,000 of Hahn’s stash can be spent in the next 10 days.

In the GOP primary for Lieutenant Governor, appointed incumbent and former state Sen. Abel Maldonado smoked his more conservative rival, state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley. Maldonado raised $318,898 during this period and spent $121,872, leaving him with $139,060 cash on hand; Aanestad raised $44,470 during this period and spent $44,441, leaving him with $43,297 cash on hand.

In the Republican primary for Attorney General, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley trumped the fundraising during this period, with $916,066 in contributions compared to $295,302 for former Chapman University Law School Dean John Eastman – including the $25,000 he loaned his own campaign – and $150,294 for state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach. Cooley finished with the most cash on hand, too: $222,280 compared to Eastman’s $158,444 and Harman’s $112,644.

In the Democratic primary for Attorney General, former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly rules the campaign cash roost only because he put $5.6 million into his own campaign during this period (atop the $4 million he’d put in earlier). His new investment accounted for all but $79,679 of his contributions in this period and he spent $8,953,697, leaving him with cash on hand of $102,984.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris raised $810,884 during this period and spent $1,546,812, finishing with $636,471 cash on hand; former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo raised $268,995 and spent $1,251,446, finishing with $149,762 cash on hand; Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, raised $239,162 and spent $671,100, finishing with $577,002 cash on hand; and Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, raised $17,532 and spent $86,956, finishing with $24,534 cash on hand. Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, had $1,029,186 cash on hand as of March 17, the close of the last reporting period, but hasn’t yet filed this period’s report as of this time; Emeryville attorney Mike Schmier didn’t raise enough to require a report.

UPDATE @ 10:33 A.M. FRIDAY: Torrico raised $180,371.79 in this period, spent $676,560.78 and finished with $522,334.73 cash on hand.

UPDATE @ 9:30 A.M. TUESDAY 6/1: Sorry, my bad: Schmier says he has raised $12,450 to date and has $3,166.88 cash on hand remaining.


Lawmakers ride out-of-district money wave

California lawmakers over the past three years raised 79 percent of campaign funds from outside their districts, according to a new study by the data-crunching wizards at Berekeley-based nonpartisan nonprofit MAPLight.org.

MAPLight.org (that’s “MAP” as in “Money In Politics”) found California legislators serving as of Aug. 31, 2009 – 79 Assembly members and 40 Senators – raised $97.9 million in campaign funds from January 2007 through March 2010, with $77.5 million coming from outside the district. About $11.9 (12 percent) came from in-district, while the remaining $8.6 million (9 percent) couldn’t be definitively located.

More than half of the lawmakers (68 out of 117 members, or 58 percent) raised 80 percent or more of their campaign funds from outside their districts; 19 lawmakers raised 90 percent or more of their funds from outside their districts.

“Not a single legislator in California raised the majority of their campaign funds from in-district, where their voters live.” MAPLight.org Executive Director Daniel Newman said in a news release. “Instead of a voter democracy, we have a donor democracy.”

“With out-of-district fundraising at a staggering 80 percent, the problem is not with a few bad apples, but with a rotten barrel,” he said. “This report shows that our campaign finance system is broken. This remote control system works well for wealthy interest groups, but not for voters.”

Here’s how the Bay Area delegation stacked up in percentage of contributions from out of district, and rank among the 119 lawmakers surveyed:

  • Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose – 94.0 percent (#5)
  • Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley – 92.7 percent (#10)
  • State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro – 89.1 percent (#21)
  • Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, San Francisco – 87.8 percent (#29)
  • Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Newark – 87.5 percent (#33)
  • State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco – 85.5 percent (#40)
  • State Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose – 85.4 percent (#43)
  • Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City – 83.2 percent (#54)
  • Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch – 82.9 percent (#56)
  • Assemblyman Jim Beall Jr., D-San Jose – 82.5 percent (#59)
  • Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda – 80.4 percent (#64)
  • Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino – 80.0 percent (#68)
  • Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo – 79.2 percent (#72)
  • Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis – 76.9 percent (#79)
  • Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa – 74.7 percent (#85)
  • State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord – 74.5 percent (#87)
  • Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael – 72.5 percent (#91)
  • Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley – 67.4 percent (#100)
  • State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto – 63.4 percent (#102)
  • Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco – 62.1 percent (#105)
  • Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo – 62.0 percent (#106)
  • State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco – 58.9 percent (#110)
  • State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berekeley – 57.9 percent (#112)
  • And, in case you’re wondering where the money comes from, the top 15 ZIP codes of contributions to legislators were:

    1 Sacramento, CA 95814 — $23,149,034 (23.66%)
    2 San Francisco, CA 94105 — $2,034,877 (2.08%)
    3 Sacramento, CA 95833 — $1,408,211 (1.44%)
    4 Los Angeles, CA 90020 — $1,395,635 (1.43%)
    5 Burlingame CA, 94010 — $1,280,137 (1.31%)
    6 Los Angeles, CA 90071 — $1,054,345 (1.08%)
    7 Newport Beach, CA 92660 –$972,717 (0.99%)
    8 Sacramento, CA 95811 — $843,928 (0.86%)
    9 Sacramento, CA 95816 — $839,730 (0.86%)
    10 Los Angeles, CA 90017 — $741,449 (0.76%)
    11 Oakland, CA 94612 — $698,200 (0.71%)
    12 Sacramento. CA 95834 — $669,150 (0.68%)
    13 Pasadena, CA 91101 — $625,373 (0.64%)
    14 Los Angeles, CA 90010 — $621,677 (0.64%)
    15 San Francisco, CA 94111 — $583,888 (0.60%)

    MAPLight.org is among supporters of Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act, which would try out a system of public financing of election campaigns in the 2014 and 2018 elections for Secretary of State, funded by an increase in lobbyist registration fees.


    Candidates woo Dem lawyers in Oakland

    Having all four candidates for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 3 seat on the same stage might’ve been the high point of this afternoon’s Alameda County Democratic Lawyers’ Club endorsement luncheon.

    Chan, Johnson, Lowe & Filipovich (photo by Josh Richman)Former Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan of Alameda, San Leandro political activist Lou Filipovich, Alameda Mayor Bev Johnson and Oakland financial advisor Harold Lowe each said her or his piece, and then the panel took a few questions from the crowd in the back room at Everett & Jones near Oakland’s Jack London Square.

    Filipovich, the lone registered Republican in the bunch, spoke about ensuring that taxpayers don’t continue subsidizing non-productive citizens, and so forth; boy, was this the wrong room for him, and he eventually acknowledged as much.

    Lowe said current supervisors have no answer for the loss of jobs at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), no clear plan for the county’s economic development and job creation, no sense of how to capitalize on the county’s three major sports franchises. “Nothing is going to change unless we have real citizens pushing the envelope,” he said, warning that without good planning, “we are five years away from becoming Vallejo.”

    (Vallejo just can’t get any love, even during its self-declared Tourism Month.)

    Johnson touted Alameda’s economic development successes over the past dozen years (she was elected to the city council there in 1998 and has been mayor since 2002), including Webster Street’s bounce-back from the Naval Air Station’s closure, improvements on Park Street and the South Shore Center’s revitalization as Alameda Towne Center. With a $184 million county budget deficit, bringing new jobs to the area is more important than ever, she said.

    And Chan billed herself as the one who can “hit the ground running, who doesn’t need any training,” having spent six years on the board before her six years in the Assembly. She noted it was legislation she authored that required Anthem Blue Cross to notify the state about its now-notorious, now-withdrawn rate hike proposal; she said she expects she would spend most of her first term working on a top-to-bottom restructuring of the county’s health care system, as tens of thousands of county residents newly insured under the federal health care reform law start seeking care.

    Chan got the club’s endorsement.

    Justin Jelincec (photo by Josh Richman)Luncheon attendees also heard today from Justin Jelincic, the self proclaimed “conservative Democrat” and “Bible believing Christian” who’s taking on Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in the 13th Congressional District’s Democratic primary. He said he was there to represent “the other side of the big tent” in the party, and filed to run only when he realized nobody else would; Jelincic said Stark himself noted 38 years ago, as he ran to unseat a longtime incumbent, that 30 years in Congress was too long because a lawmaker would lose touch with those he represents. A contested primary is “an opportunity for us as a party to say to people, ‘We want the best and the brightest.’”

    Stark staffer Jason Teramoto read a message on his boss’ behalf, saying he’d been a longtime advocate for seniors, workers, children and the disabled, especially when it comes to health care, and he wants to continue doing so for another term. Stark got the club’s endorsement.

    Bob Wieckowski (photo by Josh Richman)And Fremont City Councilman Bob Wieckowski sought the club’s endorsement in his campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 20th Assembly District; opponent Garrett Yee wasn’t there. “My opponent is a nice guy, served in Iraq, has a wonderful family, but this is not about being a nice guy,” Wieckowski said – rather, it’s about being a forceful advocate for Democratic ideals. He vowed that if the oil-severance tax to fund education isn’t successful as carried this year by Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, he’ll reintroduce it next year because he’s “mad as hell” about cuts to state colleges and universities. Wieckowski got the club’s endorsement.

    Others at the luncheon included Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro; Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley; and Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, all of whom are unopposed in the primary election.


    Torrico files to run for AG, tired but optimistic

    Torrico files candidacy papers 3-17-10I went to see Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, as he filed his candidacy papers for the Democratic primary for state Attorney General this morning at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. Though the ink is barely dry, he’s been campaigning for the better part of a year.

    “Every day you try to climb the mountain,” he said somewhat wearily, noting he’s been to about 30 California counties both to win endorsements and other support for his campaign and to push his AB 656, which would make the state Board of Equalization prepare an annual report on how much money California could raise by imposing (Ed. note – sorry, it was amended a few days ago to actually impose the tax rather than just study it) impose a 12.5 percent severance tax on all oil and natural gas taken from the state’s ground, with revenue to be shared 50 percent to the California State University system, 25 percent to the University of California system and 25 percent to the California Community Colleges system. In fact, he’ll be at a rally for AB 656 at noon tomorrow at Contra Costa College in San Pablo.

    Torrico’s AG campaign is rooted in his advocacy for education, from preschools up through college, as a means of reducing California’s crime rates. But the Democratic primary field is crowded – other well-known candidates include San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris; former Facebook executive Chris Kelly; Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara; and former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, as well the relatively unknown Mike Schmier, an Emeryville attorney.

    But Torrico remains optimistic. He said his fundraising has been competitive with the other Democrats save Kelly, who put $2 million of his own money into his campaign. “It comes down to who runs the smartest campaign,” he said.

    Torrico also has been rolling out labor and law enforcement endorsements on a regular basis. And, he noted, only he, Lieu, Nava and Schmier will have candidate statements in the official ballot pamphlet that’ll be mailed out to voters before June’s election, an important and influential showcase.

    Harris, Kelly and Delgadillo chose not to accept the voluntary $5,178,000 campaign spending limit that’s required in order to get a spot in the ballot pamphlet, implying they’re leaving the option open to make massive advertising buys later on.

    Torrico said he has been keeping an eye on what’s going on in the Republican primary field, where Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley; state Sen. Tom Harman, D-Huntington Beach; and former Chapman Law School Dean John Eastman are vying for the nomination.

    Cooley, a relative moderate generally well-liked in Los Angeles, will be hard to beat in the GOP primary “just on sheer name ID,” he predicted, and in November would be “a real challenge for any Democrat” but perhaps especially for Harris – another big-city DA who doesn’t seem to be attracting as many law-enforcement endorsements.