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State lawmakers in action—fun, fine dining and global junkets

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A belated shout-out to the Mercury News’ man in Sacramento, Steve Harmon, and his weekender piece on how loosey-goosey state law allows politicians to be when it comes to dipping into campaign funds for all sorts of stuff—including wining and dining themselves and globe-trotting. Among his examples: Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), who burned through $407,000 of her donors’ money last year despite having no opponent in November. She also jetted off to Maui to be wined and dined by lobbyists. It’s well worth a read. Here are a couple of other excerpt nuggets:

Trips to far-flung, exotic destinations are increasingly commonplace. Former state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, last year spent $6,198 on a trip to Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and London. Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, spent $13,711 on two trips that took him to Moscow, London, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong.

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Last year, former Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, was term-limited and had no election, but she pulled $329,252 out of her campaign kitty, which she says was necessary to lay the groundwork for a 2014 run for the state Board of Equalization.


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