Every year California officials are required to file a public document called a Statement of Economic Interest, or Form 700, with the Fair Political Practices Commission, which can be downloaded below. Already, these reports (and those for other state officials) have made
waves. Gov. Schwarzenegger’s head of the Dep’t of State and Consumer
Services resigned after the LA Times found that she accepted tens of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from drug companies.
Below are links to a series of ZIP files with all the 2008 Statements of Economic Interests for California’s state politicians. After the links, I’ve included some thoughts on what we’ve found after reviewing just a few, drawn randomly out of the pile. There are hundreds of pages here, and by no means have we reviewed them all yet. If you find anything that grabs your eye or otherwise rankles you, let us know, by commenting at the bottom of this blog or sending an e-mail to [email protected]
Statewide Elected Officials (including Board of Equalization)
These are extremely important documents for the purposes of providing
the (unsurprisingly skeptical) public with the confidence that politicians’
decisions are made in the public interest and not their own financial interest.
The documents also serve to remind politicians that they need to be
careful not to advocate positions that could benefit them personally,
because even the appearance of a conflict of interest is unacceptable
for public officials.
So in twenty minutes of randomly picking out files, what have we found?
- A lot of lawamkers have A LOT of moolah and some primo real estate.
- A few don’t.
- Freshman Assemblyman Jerry Hill has a lucrative pool cleaning business.
- Assemblywoman Diane Harkey won a hybrid Lexus in a raffle. She also has a lot of property. Maybe some pools, too. Assemblyman Hill?
- Assemblyman Charles Calderon’s wife works for SoCal Edison.
- Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan probably should not sit on the insurance or banking committees during her tenure. (Note: She does not sit on either.)
- Then-Speaker Fabian Nunez gave Assemblyman Hector De La Torre a $78.89 "Patagonia Vest" the day after De La Torre complained, according to the Sacramento Bee, that "[De La Torre] was ousted as chairman of the powerful Rules Committee for
challenging Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez’s ‘golden handshake’ offer to
- Assemblyman Martin Garrick doesn’t shy away from the "legislative receptions."
- Board of Equalization member Michelle Park Steel gets royalty payments from several oil and gas companies. Her husband, the former state GOP leader, is keeping busy.
- Assemblyman Tom Ammiano did get paid for acting in "Milk."
There’s a lot more to know about the people who make the laws for Californians. I know some of these bullet points are more relevant than others and they are not meant as judgments, just first observations. We’ll watch the votes and then go back to all the disclosures and hopefully have nothing to worry about…