The last weeks of the legislative year are a traditional time for California lawmakers to collect campaign money. With hundreds of bills awaiting final action, breakfast, lunchtime and evening fundraisers crowd a busy end-of-session calendar.
Critics have long noted the perception problem of lawmakers voting on bills at the same time their campaigns receive money from groups supporting or opposing key legislation. But the practice received extra attention this year following the indictment of two state senators amid accusations that they traded official favors for campaign cash.
In the secretary of state’s race, all of the leading candidates in the June primary called for fundraising blackouts during the final month of session. Republican Pete Peterson, the executive director of the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University, wants to ban all fundraisers while the Legislature is in session. State Sen. Alex Padilla, Peterson’s Democratic rival in November, was the author of SB 1101, which would have banned fundraisers at the end of session and in the weeks before the deadline to pass the state budget for the coming fiscal year. It stalled in the Assembly.
State senators ultimately adopted a house rule that prohibits members from soliciting or accepting of end-of-session money from donors that employed a Capitol lobbyist.
Amid all that, there were still a lot of checks written in the month of August, almost all of them to members of the Assembly.