Friday, November 19, 2010
Common Cause objects to corporate shindig on Maui for California politicians
by Larry Geller
Twenty-two California legislators holed up with lobbyists at the Fairmont Kea Lani hotel on Maui, far from their constituents. The event didn’t escape the notice of several San Francisco newspapers, though, or of Common Cause.
Santa Rosa's senator-elect Noreen Evans defended the event:
“If someone wants to say I was unduly influenced, I guess they could,” she said. “But my voting record speaks for itself.”
But others see such trips as troubling junkets designed to influence lawmakers far from where the public can see them just as they are faced with making billions of dollars in cuts to state services because of the ongoing budget crisis.
“Where is the access for the rest of us to talk to legislators while they're discussing these key issues?” said Katie Fleming, a spokeswoman for Common Cause, a non-partisan watchdog group. “They are going to be deciding on issues for these folks at the legislature.” [PressDemocrat, Evans cites value of legislator/lobbyist gathering in Hawaii, 11/18/2010]
The event defied transparency. The newspaper reported that it wasn't even clear whom the other legislators in attendance were.
Some of the lobbyists were identified, though:
The conference also attracted powerful political players including the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, PG&E, Southern California Edison and pharmaceutical companies.
Hawaii is a great vacation spot, a good place to hold conferences, and obviously a place to escape the voters and hobnob with the corporations that politicians represent.