Michael Smolens: DeMaio targets the California Republican Party

Radio talk-show host and former City Council member has big ambitions beyond the Assembly seat he is seeking

Campaign-commissioned polls released to the public almost always show their candidate favorably compared with opponents.

A survey from Carl DeMaio’s campaign does that and a whole lot more.

“Poll Shows Carl DeMaio Tops All Republicans, Including Donald Trump, As Most Favorable Political Leader in Assembly District 75,” reads the headline on the campaign’s widely distributed news release.

The release says his favorable ratings in the district are higher than those for state Sen. Brian Jones and county Supervisor Joel Anderson, two well-known East County Republicans who aren’t running in this race.

Far down on the favorability and name-identification chart is someone who is — Andrew Hayes, the Republican Party-endorsed candidate and an aide to Jones.

Never mind the specific results or typical skepticism about the legitimacy of a campaign-sponsored survey. The unspoken message is that if elected DeMaio would be a “political leader” reaching beyond the 75th Assembly District, which covers wide swaths of north and east San Diego County.

“I don’t think the Republican Party is in any condition to change California, and we intend to fix that,” DeMaio said in an interview.

The radio talk-show host and former San Diego City Council member has outsized ambitions: to lead the listless California GOP out of the political wilderness and not only revive it, but remold it in his image — or, more precisely, that of Reform California, the statewide political and policy organization he founded and chairs.

That’s been the main thrust of his short campaign so far. His toughest words since his surprise announcement last week have been aimed at establishment Republican leaders — though he continues to toss barbs at Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative Democrats.

DeMaio said GOP leaders in Sacramento “have been completely ineffective because they have been unwilling or unable to fight.” He added that many have a “lack of fortitude,” with the implication that he does not.

Audacious, for sure, but there’s a measurable bar: Republicans winning more Republican seats and changing the course of state government.

In fairly short order, DeMaio is promising a marked turnaround for a California GOP that has been in a downward spiral for decades. Democrats hold supermajorities in both the Assembly and state Senate, and Republicans have not won a statewide office since 2006.

Much of that decline was self-inflicted. The state GOP tilted more to the right and became ideologically rigid as the state became more Democratic and liberal. Moderate Republicans began leaving the party — a trend that picked up with the ascent of Donald Trump.

DeMaio’s prescription for turning things around relies on willpower — mostly his — and a focus on populist, quality-of-life issues, primarily opposition to taxes. Other Republicans, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former state GOP Chair Ron Nehring, for some time have been calling on Republicans to elevate bipartisan pocketbook concerns and avoid divisive social issues.

DeMaio and Reform California — he expects to continue as its chair if elected — plan to key off various statewide ballot measures. Among them is a business-sponsored measure to make it more difficult to raise taxes and Democratic-backed propositions to make it easier.

DeMaio was a leading voice against a regional plan to charge drivers a mileage tax that became so controversial it was dropped by the San Diego Association of Governments, with some once-supporting Democrats abandoning the idea. The concept of replacing the gas tax with a mileage tax is under consideration at the state level.

DeMaio said he will oppose Proposition 1, a nearly $6.4 billion bond issue to fund mental health facilities across California pushed by Newsom and a bipartisan, though mostly Democratic, coalition. He also said he will target the emerging policy of basing utility bills in part on consumer income.

DeMaio believes he can rebuild the GOP by recruiting candidates who back him on these kinds of issues. Some DeMaio-endorsed candidates recently were elected to local councils and school boards.

Sacramento is a “natural extension of our movement,” he said.

He plans to create a “Reform Caucus” in the Legislature and broadcast his radio show daily over digital platforms, which he said is allowed for an elected official under Federal Communications Commission rules. He would have to give up his AM radio show aired locally on KOGO.

There is that little thing DeMaio needs to do before taking Sacramento and the GOP by storm: win an election.

The 75th district is heavily Republican and is currently represented by Marie Waldron, who is termed-out next year.

DeMaio announced via another release he already has $600,000 in the bank, and then there’s the potential campaign synergy with Reform California. In addition to Hayes, others who have filed to run for the seat are Christie Dougherty, Jack Fernandes, Joy Frew and Kevin Juza.

(The above paragraph as been updated to reflect the accurate fundraising figure.)

Unlike most of his other campaigns, DeMaio does not face a high-profile opponent. After serving one term on the council, he lost the 2012 San Diego mayor’s race to then-Rep. Bob Filner, a Democrat.

In 2014, he lost to Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in a purple coastal district.

He lost in a 2020 primary in a heavily GOP East County congressional district eventually won by then-former Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican.

DeMaio has a reputation as a combative and divisive figure. Democrats loathe him and he has his enemies in the GOP.

In a recent statement when he endorsed Hayes, Issa leveled harsh criticism of DeMaio, perplexingly trying to paint his former foe as a liberal who, among other things, “supports radical abortion-on-demand.”

DeMaio generally keeps his distance from social issues. The California Republican Party officially opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, despite efforts by moderate GOP activists to remove those planks from the party platform this year.

There’s no abortion-rights measure on the ballot in the coming election like there was last year, but a proposition will go before voters to strike the state’s same-sex marriage ban from the California Constitution. Court decisions have ruled the ban illegal, but supporters say the conservative Supreme Court could reverse that, which could revive 2008’s Proposition 8 if it stays on the books.

DeMaio, who is gay and married to his partner, dismisses the notion the ballot measure will impact his political plans.

Click here to read the full article in the SD Union Tribune

California Assembly: Who’s in and who’s out for the most powerful posts

SACRAMENTO —  California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) announced new legislative leadership on Tuesday, a key decision in his first year as leader of the lower house that could shape what becomes law in the nation’s most populous state.

Among the most significant changes is the announcement of a new majority leader: Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Davis). She replaces Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles) who was a top lieutenant to Rivas in his contentious yearlong battle to become speaker that ended when he was sworn in this summer. Bryan now takes over as chair of the Natural Resources committee, a key panel on environmental policy.

Committee chairs have significant power to determine which bills live or die at the Capitol. New influential committee leaders announced Tuesday include Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), who will chair the powerful appropriations committee, and Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), who will oversee the budget committee. Both Wicks and Gabriel hold power over the state’s purse strings in their new roles, and are allies of Rivas, helping him secure the speakership during chaotic jockeying in the Capitol.

The tweaks to leadership could mean changes to come in Sacramento policymaking, with a renewed focus on affordability, safety and “strong public services,” said Rivas, who was sworn into the leadership role this summer after a contentious battle with former Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), who reluctantly gave up the position after seven years at the helm.

“The Assembly is unified and ready to deliver,” Rivas said in a statement. “That’s what Californians expect from their Legislature and that’s what this team will achieve.”

Although the new committee chairs reflect a diversity of backgrounds, the speaker’s core leadership team no longer includes any Black Assembly members with the removal of Bryan as majority leader.

“For all of the Black Californians who now see no representation in the entire formal Democratic leadership of the state Assembly, know that does not mean you are without representatives and certainly not absent leaders,” Bryan said.

Not every recipient of a new leadership role supported Rivas, signaling that he and state lawmakers are willing to forgive and forget after this year’s political drama.

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, a Democrat and longtime Rendon ally who is running for mayor of Sacramento, was named chair of the high-profile public safety committee as California grapples with its crime response and leads the nation on issues including gun regulation. Tensions over how to respond to fentanyl and child sex trafficking split Democrats at the Capitol earlier this year.

Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego) also supported Rendon over Rivas and was named leader of the housing committee on Tuesday, now overseeing policy decisions on one of the state’s top issues.

“We have transitioned and we are about looking forward,” Ward said in an interview Tuesday, adding that Rivas told him he was chosen for the role because of his background working on housing and homelessness issues as a member of the San Diego City Council.

Ward said in his new role, he will focus on removing barriers to housing production and making options more affordable for prospective homeowners and renters.

“There’s tension between state and local roles on housing. We do need to have stronger partnerships with local governments,” Ward said.

Freshman lawmaker Liz Ortega (D-San Leandro) will helm the labor and employment committee on the heels of a remarkable year for union-backed policy. She was elected last year after working for years as a labor union leader.

Some of Rivas’ picks are newly elected lawmakers with the potential to stay in office for another decade.

“I think it speaks to Speaker Rivas’ leadership to say we respect the people who have come before us, and now it’s time to build on that work and to think long-term about people who can be here in these positions for quite a number of years,” said Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), who was elected last year and was named chair of the transportation committee Tuesday.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California’s Next Assembly Speaker. Maybe.

Et tu, Rivas?

Late Friday, just as legislators — and everyone else in the state — were preparing to check out for the long holiday weekend, an earthquake rocked the California political world: Assemblymember Robert Rivas, a Salinas Democrat, announced that he had “secured enough votes” to become the next speaker of the California Assembly.

That immediately raised some questions: Is that actually really true? When would this hypothetical leadership change occur? How does the current speaker, Anthony Rendon, feel about all of this?

Rivas made the declaration via a press release which, unhelpfully, neglected to answer any of these questions. And though reporters have been peppering Rivas, Rendon and their respective offices with requests for elucidation, all parties involved have kept emphatically mum. 

In a series of tweets on Monday, Rivas restated that he had the necessary support, that it was “time to unite the caucus and determine a thoughtful, reasonable transition period” and that he wanted to ensure the “transition is a respectful one.” The audience for that thread could be the entire Democratic caucus. But then again, it could also have been a message meant specifically for Rendon: It’s over.

But then again, maybe not. Within minutes, Rivas deleted the tweets. Meanwhile, Rendon seemed to be enjoying his weekend.

Here’s what we do know:

  • Rendon is termed out of the Legislature in 2024, creating a definitive expiration date on his position at the top.
  • This probably isn’t the first time a member has taken a crack at unseating the leader. Last year, Rendon unceremoniously stripped Cupertino Democrat Evan Low of a coveted committee leadership role in what was rumored to be retaliation for an attempt at Rendon’s job.
  • Low is a Rivas ally and could be well positioned with his friend in the top spot.
  • There was trouble within the Democratic ranks last week when a handful of moderate Democrats attempted to force a vote on a bipartisan gas tax suspension proposal — a direct challenge to Rendon’s control of the chamber.
  • If there is to be a change of leadership, first there has to be a majority vote from the Assembly’s 58 Democrats, followed by a vote of all 78 Assembly members (two seats are vacant). Such a vote could happen as soon as today. Sources who asked not to be named said that 34 Democrats had signed cards pledging their support to Rivas, who would need 41 votes to become speaker.

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • Rivas stated in his news release that he had “begun discussions on a transition” with Rendon, but is this a hostile takeover? 
  • If Rivas really does have the support of 34 Democrats, is that backing firm enough to last until the caucus votes — especially if Rendon is lobbying against it?
  • And when would that potential vote take place? What about the actual change of leadership? What would it mean to have a changing of the guard just two weeks out from the constitutional deadline to pass a budget?
  • Palace intrigue aside, would a Rivas-led Assembly make a difference from a policy perspective? Rivas, first elected in 2018, noted that he would be the first speaker of the “modern era to represent a rural district.” He does have more agricultural connections than South Gate’s Rendon. But ideologically, he votes with the bulk of other Democrats and he touts support from the Assembly’s progressive caucus. Key interest group give the two similar ratings.

For Rivas, it’s a high-risk gamble, as Low can attest. 

Not to brag but…

…okay, maybe to brag just a little: On Friday, CalMatters won first place for “general excellence” in the 2021 California Journalism Awards. That’s along with five other first-place awards and 17 awards. That includes specific call-outs for our investigative, enterprise, land use, education and election reporting. 

So that’s pretty neat.

Thanks very much to you, dear reader, for helping us do what we do — by sharing our work, contributing financially, subscribing to this newsletter or just generally staying informed about California through our reporting. 

Here’s to a generally excellent 2022.

Click here to read the full the full article in CalMatters

CA nears letting undocumented immigrants buy health care

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Immigrants living in the country illegally would be allowed to buy health coverage on California’s insurance exchange under a bill that passed the state Assembly on Tuesday.

Already at the forefront of enacting immigrant-friendly policies, California could become the first state permitting immigrants to use the insurance exchanges created by the new federal healthcare law. Senate Bill 10 would have California petition the federal government for the right to do so. Undocumented immigrants using the exchange would not be eligible for the public subsidies that extend to other lower-income shoppers.

The measure passed 54-19, with two Republicans locked in tough re-election campaigns joining every Democrat in voting in favor. The measure now heads to the Senate for a final vote, before advancing to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Earlier in May, California began extending full benefits to undocumented children enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income insurance program. …

Click here to read the full article

Democrats win 31st Assembly District showdown

As reported by the Fresno Bee:

In the days leading up to the 31st Assembly District’s 2004 election, then-Assembly Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield made a prediction: “Someday, this will be our seat.”

That day may never come.

There was a special election Tuesday to fill the unexpired term of Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea, who resigned a year early to take a job with the pharmaceutical industry, and it appears all but certain that Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula will win the race. Just before midnight, his main opponent, Fresno Republican Clint Olivier, conceded.

Republicans always like their chances in special elections, which historically have …

Array of gifts given to California lawmakers in 2015

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

State legislators accepted more than $892,000 in gifts last year, including foreign trips, expensive dinners, concert and sports tickets, golf games, spa treatments, Disneyland admissions and bottles of tequila and wine, according to filings released Wednesday.

Lawmakers had their expenses covered by others for educational and trade trips to France, China, Argentina, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Mexico and Israel.

In fact, travel costs dominate the gift tallies from last year with a large number of lawmakers deciding to fly overseas for conferences or policy meetings paid for entirely by influential interest groups and foundations.

The travel included 21 lawmakers who attended a conference in Maui in November at a cost of about $3,000 per person, paid for by a nonprofit group funded by oil and tobacco firms and other interests lobbying the Legislature. …

Click here to read the full story

Lowest-Paid Legislators Wear Distinction As Badge of Honor

Richard RothOnly in public office could the distinction of lowest paid be worn as a badge of honor.

But Richard Roth, a Riverside Democrat, has refused every pay increase since being elected to the state Senate in 2012, making $90,526 per year in base salary.

Most members of the California Legislature make $100,113 per year, with leadership drawing checks for as much as $115,129. In fact, Roth is the only senator currently paid below the going rate, although there are several like-minded members of the Assembly.

Roth spokesperson Shrujal Joseph told CalWatchdog that Roth believes he has an obligation to perform his duties at the pay rate voters agreed to when he was elected.

“If fortunate enough to be re-elected, Senator Roth will accept the pay that is in effect then, whether it be higher or lower,” said Joseph.

Members of the Assembly

Fullerton Republican Young Kim is the lowest paid member of the Assembly, earning $95,291 annually. Like Roth, she’s refused every pay increase since being elected in 2014 — including one that passed right before she was elected but came into effect afterwards.

Six other members of the Assembly refused one pay increase, earning $97,197. Four are Republicans: Catharine Baker of San Ramon, Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, David Hadley of Torrance and Tom Lackey of Palmdale. Two are Democrats: Ken Cooley of Rancho Cordova and Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks.

California Citizens Compensation Commission

Pay for legislators, and constitutional officers like governor and attorney general, is determined annually by the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which will meet again on April 27. The CCCC also determines benefits.

The CCCC is a seven-member panel, appointed by the governor, which is supposed to represent different segments of the community and different areas of expertise, including one member with expertise in compensation (like an economist); one representing the general public (like a homemaker/retiree/person of median income); one representing the nonprofit world; one who is an executive at a large CA employer; one who represents small business; and two labor representatives.

According to Tom Dalzell, the CCCC chairman, it’s unclear if another raise will be in order as he hasn’t “begun to think about it,” but noted the sacrifice many legislators make by leaving lucrative careers for public office. And in general, pay is considered one of the biggest lures of top talent.

Dalzell, who is a business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 and occupies one of the CCCC’s labor seats, said that in determining whether to increase, freeze or reduce pay, the CCCC considers the state budget, the consumer price index and survey data on local elected officials.

Pay Scale History

California has the highest paid state legislators in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. They are also paid well above the state’s median income of around $61,084.

On the whole, base salary for legislators has increased since 2005. To be more precise, legislators have received six increases, three freezes and two reductions since 2005. To be even more precise, base salary went from $99,000 in 2005 to the $100,113 base salary it is today — after salaries had been frozen between 1999 to 2005.

The two reductions were largely orchestrated by the former chairman Charles Murray, a holdover appointee from the Schwarzenegger administration. Murray stepped down almost a year ago to the day.

The six increases: 2005 – 12 percent increase; 2006 – 2 percent increase; 2007 – 2.75 percent increase; 2013 – 5 percent increase; 2014 – 2 percent increase; 2015 – 3 percent increase.

The two decreases: 2009 – 18 percent reduction; 2012 – 5 percent reduction.

And the three freezes were in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

As readers can probably imagine, the decreases were unpopular in Sacramento. In fact, one former legislator fought a cut — the 18 percent reduction in 2009 that slashed salaries from $116,208 to $95,291 — by appealing to both Brown and the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.

Neither appeal was successful.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

June Ballot “Orphaned,” But Likely to Pass

CA-legislatureWhile dozens of measures are vying to make it on the November general election ballot, one proposal is ready for the June primary — even though no one is campaigning for or against it.

Proposition 50 is a constitutional amendment empowering legislators to suspend other legislators without pay with a two-thirds vote of the respective chamber.

The measure is in response to three suspensions with pay in 2014: Democratic state Sens. Roderick Wright of Inglewood, Leland Yee of San Francisco and Ron Calderon of Montebello. Wright was suspended after being convicted of felony perjury and election fraud and the other two were suspended after federal corruption charges were filed.

The measure has a good chance of passing, as public perception of the Legislature took a hit following the rash of incidents in 2014 (in February of 2015, it rebounded a bit but was still in the low 40 percent range).

“From a voter’s perspective, it’s pretty straight forward,” said Kathay Feng, the executive director of the good government group California Common Cause. “There’s not much love for misbehaving legislators.”

Feng said some may question whether this measure violates the spirit of innocent until proven guilty, but others are sure this won’t be an issue.

“Guilty until proven innocent when it comes to legislators,” said Steven Maviglio, a Democratic campaign strategist, noting that the measure is “totally non-controversial.”

Politics and Process

The measure doesn’t have any opponents actively fighting it. But no one is pushing for it either. When contacted by CalWatchdog, former Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who introduced the measure, deferred through an aide to sitting senators or the Senate Rules Committee for more info.

But sitting senators would refer it to an outside group to handle the campaign, yet no such committee has been formed. No one is campaigning for it.

“All of the people who were originally involved seemed to have left this as an orphan for somebody else,” said Feng.

If the measure’s passage is truly inevitable — a slam dunk — then there may be little need to push for it, especially in the absence of opposition. But some observers say it could be that the pressure is off now that no one is in trouble.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” said John J. Pitney, Jr., a Roy P. Crocker professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College. “The idea may regain currency if another legislator gets into major trouble, but until then it is in the political memory hole.”

The measure will appear on the June ballot because it is a constitutional amendment added by the Legislature. Measures that go through the signature gathering process can only appear on the November general election ballot — of which it appears there will be plenty.

How Else Can They Be Punished?

Besides suspension, legislators have other punitive actions they can take against lawmakers, although they are rarely used.

According to Alex Vassar, who runs the California political website One Voter Project, censure (it’s basically a public shaming by peers) was last used in 1982 to strongly condemn comments made about abortion rights protesters by O.C. Republican John G. Schmitz.

Expulsion, according to Vassar, was last used in 1905 against legislators colluding to solicit bribes (Wright was threatened with an expulsion vote). And members can also be stripped of committee assignments, which was used last with Yee, Wright and Calderon.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Chavez drops Senate campaign, recommits to Assembly

As reported by CalWatchdog.com:

In dramatic fashion, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez announced Monday he was suspending his campaign to replace the retiring Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer while at a debate for that seat.

“I think the best role I can fill for the Republican Party and moving the agenda forward … is to run for my Assembly seat,” the Oceanside Republican said during the debate’s opening comments. “I’m not going to be running for the United States Senate, and I’ll leave the field right now.”

And like that, he was gone.

Chavez had struggled to keep up financially. As of the end of 2015, Attorney General Kamala Harris, the Democratic frontrunner, had nearly $4 million in the bank. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, was relatively close …

Click here to read the full article

CA Assemblyman Resigns to Take High-Paying Job in Pharmaceutical Industry

henry-perea-california-sate-assembly-Assemblyman Henry Perea, who announced earlier this month his intention to resign from the Legislature, has revealed that he’ll be taking a job with the pharmaceutical industry.

State law bans the Fresno Democrat from lobbying his former colleagues for one year following his tenure in the state Assembly. Yet, the state’s ban on influence-peddling hasn’t stopped the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America from hiring Perea as a senior director of state advocacy. Perea, according to published reports, began talking job prospects with the industry group in September.

Beginning on January 4, Perea will direct political operations in California, Arizona and Nevada for the group known around the Capitol by the acronym PhRMA. The group represents the country’s biggest pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Allergan, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Pfizer.

“They innovate, they discover cures, they represent a lot of California employers,” Perea said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “The debate in health care, especially after the Affordable Care Act, is going to be very robust over the next decade or two and I look forward to being a part of that.”

PhRMA’s Robust Lobbying Operation

Since Perea’s first term in the state Assembly in 2010, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has spent big money to lobby the governor, state lawmakers and other state government officials.

A CalWatchdog.com analysis of state lobbying disclosure forms found that Perea’s new employer has spent more than $2.59 million in state lobbying over the past five years. That half-million dollars per year in annual lobbying fees doesn’t include money spent by PhRMA’s member organizations.

Just one PhRMA member, the multinational pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, spent more than $3.18 million in lobbying over the same period, according to CalWatchdog.com’s review of disclosure reports.

Perea’s Campaign Contributions from PhRMA

The pharmaceutical industry’s robust lobbying operation in Sacramento has frequently crossed paths with Perea. Over the course of his career, Perea has accepted $157,144 in campaign contributions from the industry, according to FollowtheMoney.org’s analysis of campaign contributions. That ranks him 119th of every politician in the country and, according to FollowtheMoney.org, means he’s accepted more pharma money than Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins and former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

During the 2011-2012 legislative session, the pharmaceutical industry contributed more than $74,000 to Perea’s campaign accounts, making it the second largest industrywide contributor to Perea’s campaign, according to an independent analysis by the transparency group MapLight.

Perea’s multiple campaign committees also appear frequently on campaign finance disclosure reports and political action committee summaries filed by pharmaceutical companies. Earlier this year, his campaign committee for a 2018 Insurance Commissioner campaign accepted $2,000 from Amgen. In 2014, Pfizer gave Perea $3,500 and counted his re-election among its important wins.

“We continue to face significant legislative and regulatory challenges and each election cycle is critical to our industry,” Sally Susman, chair of Pfizer PAC, wrote in its 2014 Pfizer PAC annual report, a 102-page report detailing the company’s effort to build “positive public will.”

Perea’s history of luxury gifts, trips

Although Perea has refused to disclose his new salary, it’s likely to be more than the $97,197 annual salary and $33,000 in annual tax-free per diem payments he received as a member of the state Legislature.

Over the course of his career, Perea supplemented his income with tens of thousands of dollars in luxury goods, entertainment and travel, according to his economic disclosure reports.

Money Stackof BillsIn 2011, Perea accepted $9,397 worth of lodging, meals and transportation for a junket to Italy sponsored by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, “a San Francisco-based nonprofit made up of oil companies, utilities and environmental groups.” Two years later, Perea again accompanied the group on its junket to Eastern Europe – a trip valued at $9,984.

Perea’s biggest haul came last year, when he accepted $16,090 from the group, including a $10,221 trip to Chile. He also traveled to: Maui on a $2,148 trip paid for by the Independent Voter Project, Israel on a $11,550 trip paid for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Central America on a $1,500 trip paid for by the government of El Salvador.

3rd lawmaker resignation since 2013

Perea will become the third California lawmaker in two years to quit in the middle of a term in order to take a job with a Capitol interest group. In 2013, Democrat State Senator Michael Rubio abruptly quit his position to take a job with Chevron’s government affairs unit. That same year, Republican State Senator Bill Emmerson quit mid-term for a high-paying job with the California Hospital Association.

Perea’s resignation will trigger a 2016 special election that is expected to cost Fresno taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars. The March 2014 special election to fill Emmerson’s seat cost Riverside County taxpayers $415,000, according to the Press-Enterprise.

Two candidates had already announced their intentions to run for the 31st Assembly District: Democrat Joaquin Arambula and Republican Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com