As the cold November winds prepare to blast us into winter, wouldn’t you like to fly away to a land of perpetual sunshine? Someplace like Maui?
Well, two dozen California legislators have packed their swim trunks and sunscreen and have flown to Maui. These lucky folks are being treated to a five-day conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea, where the rooms cost $350 per night. But they won’t see a bill. Their expenses ($2500 per lawmaker) are being paid by a non-profit called the Independent Voter Project. Who are they? They include:
Occidental Petroleum and the Western States Petroleum Association
the Altria tobacco firm
the California Cable and Telecommunications Association
the State prison guards union
the California Distributors’ Association tobacco and other products).
Just to make sure our legislators get enough rest, a mini-conference from Nov 19-23 will be held just down the road at the Grand Wailea. The sponsor is the Pacific Policy Research Foundation whose supports include Eli Lilly (again), PG&E, and Amgen.
Who attends these gatherings? That’s a semi-secret but legislators from both parties routinely show up as well as power brokers like former assembly speaker John Perez. The only people who don’t get a seat are you and me. Patrick McGreevy lays it out in the LA Times.
Every year they have these elitist parties with the public left out and every year people bitch about it, but here we are again. And Jerry Brown, who doesn’t make many mistakes, vetoed a bill that would have required nonprofits that pay for legislators’ travel to meetings like this, to disclose their donors.
But what good does disclosure do? These people have no shame. Next year they’ll do it again. Even with a series of recent scandals, they’ll do it again unless someone stops them. Write to Mike McGuire, write to Jim Wood, join California Common Cause.
Maybe next year we should crash the party? Or at least get them to hold it in-state? Box lunches at the Wharfinger should be good enough for those who are really doing the people’s business.