Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani's state Senate campaign has been attacked in recent weeks by a radio ad from a secretive web of campaign committees. The Stockton assemblywoman and a Republican colleague, Bill Berryhill, are butting heads in a closely watched 5th Senate District race, based in San Joaquin County. The following is a text of the ad and an analysis by The Bee's Jim Sanders:
Narrator: And the gifts? $14,000 worth. Life's pretty good for Cathleen Galgiani. The Ford Mustang taxpayers gave Cathleen? We've paid for every drop of gas, too $26,000 worth. Cathleen's salary? $180,000 tax-free, yet she voted to raise our income taxes. Galgiani raised our taxes to pay for her spending. No wonder Cathleen refused to support limiting state spending and creating a budget reserve to protect taxpayers. Instead, Galgiani voted for fatter pensions and weaker welfare reform. Cathleen Galgiani. Wasting our money, raising our taxes. Tell her the party's over. Paid for by the California Senior Advocates League. Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate (another version of the ad cites the "Citizens for California Reform").
Most of the assertions in the ad are untrue or exaggerated, and its overall implication that Galgiani enjoyed perks of office beyond those afforded other lawmakers is also false.
The ad is dead wrong about Galgiani's salary. It's not $180,000 tax-free it's a taxable $95,291, plus about $30,000 in tax-free per diem. Gifts? She reported $13,722 over five years.
Galgiani once drove a 2011 Ford Mustang leased largely at state expense, but since November 2011, legislators have driven their personal cars and have been reimbursed for mileage. The ad fails to mention that the $26,000 in gas costs are cumulative over six years.
By comparison, Berryhill, of Ceres, receives the same annual salary and drove a taxpayer-subsidized 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid until the program ended. He accepted per diem until May 1, a month before the primary election. He reported receiving $7,065 in gifts over three years.
The ad is funded by oil, tobacco and drug companies, among other corporate donors, but the money was routed through shell committees and no specific donors are identified in the ad.
Galgiani did vote for a tax increase, in 2009, when she supported $12.8 billion in temporary hikes to ease a $40 billion budget shortfall.
Specifics are not cited for claims that she voted for "fatter pensions" and "weaker welfare reform," the latter raising the question: Weaker than what?
Galgiani has supported some welfare bills, not others. She voted to cut the number of months a CalWORKs welfare-to-work participant can receive aid, for example, but she favored eliminating a fingerprint requirement for food stamp recipients.
As part of a 2009 budget deal, Galgiani voted to place on the ballot a proposal to boost the state's reserve fund. Voters rejected it. She later abstained from voting on a similar plan.
Galgiani abstained in 2010 from voting on a bill to roll back pension increases adopted in 1999. The bill died, but the net result was to maintain the status quo not to create "fatter pensions."