Cary Rudman liked to make a movie mafia joke when he described his job as a lawyer to some of California’s most powerful lawmakers. He called himself a “consigliere,” making a nod to the famous mafia lawyers in “The Godfather.”
It made his friends laugh. Rudman had a reputation for doing the right thing, so much so that he spent his last years in the Capitol leading the ethics training that lobbyists, lawmakers and political staff members take each year.
“He loved public service. He didn’t want to do anything else. He loved public policy, loved politics,” said Perata, who chose Rudman as his general counsel when he was president of the Senate.
Rudman, 72, died on Saturday. He’s expected to be memorialized later this week on the floor of the Senate by Sen. Ed Hernandez, the chairman of the Senate’s Ethics Committee.
Rudman worked his way through choice assignments in both the Assembly and the Senate over decades.
He worked as general counsel first to Willie Brown when Brown led the Assembly, and then to Don Perata when Perata was president of the Senate. He also worked as chief of staff to former Senate majority leader Gloria Romero.
Rudman “never had a down moment. He was cheerful as could be – smart, intuitive and just a wonderful friend,” Perata said.
Rudman's probably best known around the Capitol these days for his ethics classes, where he woke up drowsy staff members with rap music and sharp comments. The Bee attended one in 2013, when the Legislature was reeling from a bribery investigation aimed at former Sen. Ron Calderon and a series of hefty fines leveled by the Fair Political Practices Commission against lobbyists and lawmakers.
Rudman put the day’s scandals in context of the Legislature’s history.
“This is the part where I used to talk about what was known as the ‘shrimp scam’ in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, which was an FBI sting,” Rudman told the group.
His friend and colleague Kip Lipper said Rudman could have made more money by leaving the Legislature and working in the private sector, but Rudman loved his work.
"He felt that giving back to California was important,” said Lipper, a longtime Capitol staff member now working in the office of Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins. “He was a product of California public schools, including UC Berkeley. He had a deep and abiding respect for California and the public interest."