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 …

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

Jet-Setting CA Politicians

Globe_2013According to press reports, Fresno Assemblyman Henry T. Perea is off to Spain to study high-speed rail while accompanied by business and labor representatives. He is being joined by his father, Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea.

Out-of-state travel by California politicians is common. Lawmakers say such trips are valuable in learning about programs and policies in other states and countries. Other times travel is justified as an opportunity to attend conferences with those facing similar issues. That the destinations of these trips are so often 5-star hotels in desirable vacation spots is dismissed as coincidence by the journeying elected officials. Still, it seems strange that so many “important” conferences take place in locations like Hawaii and not in Narvik, in northern Norway, during the fall and winter. A few years ago, a number of Los Angeles City Council members jetted off to Paris in the springtime, explaining that the trip was necessary to study public toilets. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

In fairness to Assemblyman Perea, who is termed out next year, there is no suggestion that taxpayers are footing the bill for his weeklong trip — the expenses will be paid out of campaign contributions, according to his spokeswoman.

While there is nothing unusual about trips like these by lawmakers, this does not relieve concerns that these junkets are far from being in the best interests of average taxpayers.

When spending a great deal of time in the company of those who have an interest in pending legislation or government policy, there is the risk that their concerns will become a priority for the lawmakers. After a glass of wine and good paella, the dubious arguments of lobbyists can begin to make sense to even those with a great deal of willpower.

In the case of Perea, there is little additional risk to taxpayers, since he is already a forthright and committed supporter of high-speed rail. “A successful high-speed rail system will bring good paying jobs to the community, while making Fresno more accessible for economic investments,” he has stated.

High Speed RailHowever, it should be noted that the current high-speed rail program, that is intended to speed travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco and Los Angeles and Sacramento, will do little or nothing for average Californians who spend, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 27 minutes traveling to work — nearly an hour for the round trip. So while a program that may be a boon to those who can afford to travel, it will do nothing to provide relief to those sitting in traffic while commuting to and from work.

Leftist social engineers who want to repopulate the inner city using urban lofts, tony restaurants and cultural attractions as a lure, don’t want people commuting to work. They want to promote a “Starbucks” lifestyle, where everyone lives near where they are employed and if necessary, use a bicycle or public transportation – the Los Angeles City Council recently approved a plan to reduce hundreds of miles of vehicle traffic lanes to provide more room for bicyclists.

While the social engineers may not like the traditional suburbs it is here that most Californians continue to live, and for them bicycling to work is not a practical option. They want to see improved roads and local transportation options, not a train intended to whisk the leisure class off to far away cities. They want their transportation dollars spent to make their lives easier. They show no desire to pay an outrageous sum – hundreds of billions — to subsidize a project that, assume it even gets built, will serve very few.

Originally published by the HJTA.org

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Climate Change Regulation: Taking It Out on the Little Guy​

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared that opposition to efforts to reduce carbon emissions “borders on the immoral.” Hesitate though we might to debate Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, on the nature of divine law, we have to question the “morality” of forcing working California motorists to bear the brunt of the cost of regulations required by Brown’s convictions.

In light of both economic concerns and a more rational understanding of climate change science, other nations and states are rethinking their aggressive policies. But here in California, the reigning political leadership is forcing the middle class and working poor to shoulder almost the entire burden of mankind’s response to climate change.

When it comes to the topic of climate change, there is really only one thing we know for certain. Climate change is a global concern that needs a global response. There are nearly 200 nations on earth. To ask the working families and small businesses of one state in one nation to suffer almost the entirety of economic harm is both unfair and foolish.

How did we get to this point? In 2006, California lawmakers enacted the Global Warming Solutions Act, telling the public that its cap-and-trade program – forcing emitters to buy credits – would radically reduce carbon emissions. The unelected California Air Resources Board has proceeded to place transportation fuels under the program. Because the agency has no power to levy taxes, CARB Chair Mary Nichols said they would use the power of cap-and-trade as the way to price carbon. Already, this program has added about 13 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas and this could be increasing to as much as 75 cents.

Last year, anticipating the problems this would create for working California families, Democratic Assemblyman Henry Perea introduced AB 69 to spread the implementation of the new fees over a three-year period to allow those who must buy gasoline more time to adjust to the higher costs. The measure was supported by other moderate Democrats and Republicans but was killed by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg.

Now that the new CARB regulations are taking hold and producing upward pressure on gasoline prices, Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson has introduced AB 23, the Affordable Gas for California Families Act. This legislation would remove transportation fuels and natural gas from the clutches of the California Air Resource Board’s cap-and-trade program.

The idea behind AB 23 is simple. Relieve the burden on modest and low income folks already struggling under difficult economic circumstances and who have little ability to make quick changes to their lifestyles. However, when heard last week in the Assembly Resources Committee, the bill was rejected 6 to 3, on a party line vote, with Democrats, who like to portray themselves as the champions of the little guy, providing the no votes.

Unfortunately, this vote is what we’ve come to expect. Just last year the Democrats rejected a bill which would have phased the cap-and-trade “tax” in gradually. As I wrote last year, “the response of Democrats reminds one of Marie Antoinette’s who, when told that the people were starving because they had no bread, infamously said, ‘Let them eat cake.’ In the case of those fervently devoted to the rigid implementation of California’s cap and trade program it is as if when told that a low income citizen can no longer afford gasoline for their 1991 Toyota Corolla they respond with, ‘Let them drive Teslas.’ The Tesla, of course, is a taxpayer-subsidized electric car that will set the buyer back north of $100,000, which is well beyond the means of those who will be most hurt by this new gas tax.”

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Originally published on HJTA.org

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