Republican Assemblywoman Beth Gaines is accused of shortchanging constituents by moonlighting in a 60-second radio ad released Tuesday by Andy Pugno, her GOP election opponent. Pugno said about $25,000 was spent to air the ad on radio stations in the 6th Assembly District of Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties. Below is the ad and analysis by Jim Sanders of The Bee Capitol Bureau:
Woman: Taxpayers give incumbent politician Beth Gaines $95,000 a year to be a full-time legislator, but we only get part-time work in return. Beth Gaines admitted under oath that she spends over a third of her time moonlighting at another job.
Man: Beth Gaines takes her full-time paycheck but only gives us part-time work?
Man: That's cheating.
Woman: Beth Gaines went to court to hide her full-time job from voters, and she won't list that job on the ballot. If she's ashamed of her $95,000 job, why is she running for re-election?
Man: So we give Beth Gaines $95,000 to be a full-time legislator, but she hides that from voters and moonlights a third of the time?
Man: That's dishonest.
Woman: The Los Angeles Times said Beth Gaines wants to avoid admitting that she's a member of the Legislature. The Sacramento Bee called it the "sleaziest trick."
Man: Say no to political sleazy tricks. Say no to Beth Gaines.
It is true that Gaines is paid $95,000 as a lawmaker and that she has sworn in court documents that she works 10 to 15 hours weekly in her family's insurance business, Gaines Insurance Agency, created in February. She owns 50 percent of the firm.
It also is true that Gaines listed "small business owner," not legislator, as her ballot designation for the June primary.
Pugno is within legitimate political discourse to opine that moonlighting is "cheating" voters who pay Gaines' salary and that not listing herself on the ballot as a legislator is "dishonest" and "hiding" information from voters.
But many lawmakers earn outside income from other jobs, and an increasing number are opting to list those positions on the ballot rather than their status as an incumbent lawmaker.
The Legislature does not require lawmakers to work a specified number of hours and the job is not 9-to-5 because duties often require attendance at night or weekend events.
Pugno's ad is correct that the Los Angeles Times characterized Gaines as trying to avoid admitting that she's a member of the Legislature.
However, the claim that The Bee wrote "sleaziest trick" to criticize Gaines is off the mark. Columnist Marcos Breton used the words to rip the common practice every election of lawmakers calling themselves business owners, not incumbents. Gaines was not mentioned.