- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California lawmakers, including two Democrats who are on leave after being charged with criminal offenses, have reported thousands of dollars in gifts and travel expenses they received from donors.

The required reports, filed this week and covering the previous year, also show payments for Gov. Jerry Brown’s trip to China last year and a trip to Armenia for Assembly Speaker John Perez. Tickets for events, meals and rounds of golf, as well as travel expenses, were the most commonly reported gifts.

The Los Angeles Times reported (https://lat.ms/1hHmHlD ) that many of the gifts were paid for by powerful interest groups that have business before state government.

Brown’s financial disclosure statement with the state Fair Political Practices Commission showed more than $11,000 in gifts last year, including $8,400 from the San Francisco-based Bay Area Council, which sponsored Brown’s weeklong trade mission to China last spring. Brown, a Democrat, also reported receiving a private flight to attend a meeting of the State Sheriffs Association in Lake Tahoe and a flight to Bakersfield from the California Association of Hospitals.

Perez, D-Los Angeles, reported receiving nearly $38,000 in gifts and travel payments last year. That included more than $9,600 paid by the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia for Perez to visit the nation, where he received gifts of books, religious relics and Armenian brandy.

Perez’s other gifts included three trips totaling about $16,000 from the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, a nonprofit group that hosts policy conferences for lawmakers. Perez is a member of the group’s board and served as host of its national speakers conference last year.

Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who pleaded not guilty last month to federal charges that he accepted nearly $100,000 in bribes, disclosed $6,827 in legal gifts, including concert and fight tickets, expensive meals and travel.

They included a $265 golf game paid for by the nonprofit group Californians for Diversity, which is controlled by the senator’s brother, former Assemblyman Thomas Calderon. The indictment against the senator alleges that he directed undercover FBI agents “to make bribe payments to Californians for Diversity,” which in turn paid $13,000 to a consulting firm run by Thomas Calderon.

Ron Calderon also disclosed thousands in gifts from insurance industry associates while he served as chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee: $2,400 in travel and lodging from the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies; $440 in event admission and meals from Farmers Group Inc.; a $365 dinner from the Personal Insurance Federation; a $341 dinner from Pacific Life, and $87 in food from State Farm.

Calderon announced Sunday that he would take a leave of absence from the Senate while the charges are pending.

The other senator on leave, Democrat Rod Wright, reported a total of about $8,500 in gifts and covered travel expenses. He is scheduled to be sentenced in May after being convicted of voter fraud and perjury for misstating where he lived on candidate papers.

His reported gifts last year that included: $3,000 for lodging, airfare and meals to attend an Independent Voter Project Conference; $1,965 for lodging, meals and a spa while attending a leadership seminar sponsored by the California Legislative Black Caucus Policy Institute; and about $960 for lodging and meals to attend two separate conferences sponsored by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy.

Wright also reported receiving admission, meals and parking at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club valued at $345 and a dinner from the Cigar Association of America valued at $207.

Other gifts reported by lawmakers include: $424 in fight tickets from Zuffa, which promotes mixed martial arts bouts, to Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana; $270 in Disneyland tickets from the Walt Disney Co. to Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles; and $270 in Cirque du Soleil tickets from the government of Canada to Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide