The outgoing leader of a bloc of business-friendly Assembly Democrats has accepted a job advising a pharmaceutical industry organization on state policy.
Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, announced this month he would step down rather than serve out the remaining year of his term. He had accumulated significant clout in the Legislature, heading a coalition of moderate Democrats and playing a key role in shaping major bills like a $7.5 billion water bond and a sweeping climate change measure.
Now Perea will be working for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America on political advocacy in California, Arizona and Nevada. Influence law prohibits him from directly lobbying California lawmakers, but Perea said in an interview he hopes to offer “strategic advice to the team as they deal with issues that come up throughout the year.”
“They do a lot of great work surrounding bringing cures to patients, and it’s an organization I’m excited about joining,” Perea said. “I think PhRMA plays a big role in healthcare and I look forward to helping shape that in the future.”
Perea’s new employer spent around $428,000 on lobbying in California during the first three quarters of 2015, according to official disclosures. In 2013 to 2014 Perea raised nearly $50,000 from pharmaceutical industry donors.
In transitioning from representing constituents to representing an interest group Perea will walk a well-worn path. In 2013, former state senator Michael Rubio gave up his Central Valley seat and took a job with Chevron. Later that year former state senator Bill Emmerson moved from the Legislature to the California Hospital Association.
Since Perea left, the moderate Democrats chose Assembly members Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, and Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, to head the coalition.