Republican Assembly candidate Barbara Ortega blasted her GOP opponent Peter Tateishi in a campaign flier this month as someone whose secret to success is living off taxpayers.
"Peter Tateishi has managed a lucrative history of taxpayer funded salary increases as a congressional staff member," the flier said.
"During the last six years, the average salary in California has grown $9,400. During that same period, Peter Tateishi managed to have his taxpayer-funded salary increased by over $87,000.
"All while most taxpayers struggled to make ends meet and were having trouble putting food on their table," the flier said. "Government is big enough. We need leaders who understand fiscal responsibility."
Ortega added that Tateishi "doesn't mind raising the salaries of all government employees."
"As a park commissioner Peter Tateishi repeatedly led, and succeeded, in an effort to provide retroactive pay raises and health care increases to all district employees."
Ortega's mailer says Tateishi lives off a "cushy taxpayer funded salary" and "has a history of sharing the wealth with other government employees as well as raising fees on local taxpayers."
The following is an analysis by The Bee's Jim Sanders:
The ad is correct that Tateishi's salary as an aide to Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren of Gold River rose from about $45,000 in 2005 to about $131,000 in 2011 but so did his job title and responsibilities.
Tateishi began as an entry-level employee, a field representative. Over the years, he won promotions to intergovernmental affairs director and deputy chief of staff before becoming chief of staff last year.
From late 2007 until early 2009, Tateishi left Lungren's staff to work as a self-employed consultant, for Tateishi Strategies, which primarily served businesses and nonprofit groups. Its purpose was to develop public relations, communications and political strategies, county records say.
Tateishi does not set his own salary as a congressional chief of staff Lungren does, as required by U.S. House of Representative rules. The maximum salary allowed for a chief of staff is $168,411. Tateishi's pay is now about $138,000 per year.
The ad's reference to Tateishi's "raising fees for local taxpayers" and "sharing the wealth with other government employees" refers to votes he took as a member of the Carmichael parks district board from December 2000 to January 2009.
Without a dissenting vote, the board adjusted its facility fees in 2007, increased its contribution to health care benefits in 2006, and gave cost-of-living pay increases to full-time employees in 2006, 3.9 percent, and in 2007, 3.4 percent. Both years, Tateishi made the motion to approve the raises.