January 8, 2003
Governor Gray Davis
Office of the Governor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Via Facsimile & US Mail
Re: Dismiss corporate lobbyists as budget advisors
Dear Governor Davis:
Your administration has given power to craft your current budget proposal to Phil Isenberg and Patrick Johnston, two lobbyists who represent several of the most influential special interests in California. Isenberg and Johnston should be barred immediately from all further closed-door budget discussions. Their allegiance and accountability is to their corporate clients, not the public.
According to filings with the Secretary of State’s office, in 2001-02 alone Phil Isenberg’s firm was paid over $147,000 by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, $183,000 by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and $236,000 by FPL Energy. Johnston’s current clients include Health Net of California and Pacific Life Insurance Company. All of these clients have significant interests in the budget debate.
Johnston and Isenberg’s role in the budget process continues your administration’s disturbing trend of assembling an inner circle of advisers from outside lobbyists who are not employed by the state and do not have to abide by conflict of interest laws. For example, Garry South served as your chief advisor while being employed by a firm that represented many industries in the Capitol. Darius Anderson, who was privy to similar inner circle conversations, counted Calpine, General Motors and PG&E as clients of his firm while each company had significant interests before the legislature and your office.
Johnston and Isenberg should not be allowed to participate in private discussions with you, which would give them undue opportunity to advance the interests of their corporate clients. The details of budget meetings which Johnston and Isenberg attended should be immediately revealed to the public in order to ensure that no corporation has knowledge and access that the public does not.