Lawmakers Beg for Bucks While Budget Burns

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – While facing a multibillion-dollar budget deficit that forced state workers to take unpaid leave, California lawmakers raked in $1.26 million at 325 fund raisers during the final three weeks of the legislative session, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

     More than a quarter of this year’s fund raisers came in the waning days of the session, from Aug. 24 through Sept. 11. The busiest days were Aug. 25 and 26, when lawmakers asked for combined maximum contributions of nearly $130,000 per contributor at 35 fund-raising events, the FPPC said.
     “Sacramento is home to the confluence of three great rivers: the American, Sacramento and L Street, where the state Capitol is located,” FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson said.
     “When the Sacramento or American Rivers overflow their banks they call it a ‘natural disaster,’ but when L Street floods the downtown area with campaign cash they call it ‘business as usual.'”
     Sacramento lawmakers attended 86 fund-raising events during the last weeks of the session, including “breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners, cocktail parties and at least 11 ‘golf tournaments,’ asking for combined maximum contributions of more than $140,000 per attendee,” the FPPC reported.
     More than 20 percent of the fund raising events this year were to raise money for elections three to five years away, something Johnson called a new trend.
     This “has to make you wonder how they have time to do anything but fund raise,” he said.
     The U.S. Supreme Court last week heard arguments in a case that could repeal a 60-year ban on direct contributions from corporations to federal candidates.
     “Everyone that deals with these issues is awaiting the Supreme Court decision,” said FPPC spokesman Roman Porter.

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