Capitol Alert

Senator who voted for gas tax says he received threats after cell number, address shared

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto, left, talks with Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, at the Capitol Monday, April 17, 2017, in Sacramento.
State Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto, left, talks with Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, at the Capitol Monday, April 17, 2017, in Sacramento. AP

The only Republican lawmaker to vote for the controversial $52 billion transportation deal says he received hundreds of angry calls on his personal cellphone and at home, some threatening, the day after the measure passed in the California Legislature.

“Look, I’m a grown man and I’m an elected official. I expect it,” said Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto. “Talking to my wife, come on. Talking to my kids, that’s unbelievable.”

Cannella said his cellphone and home address were shared publicly the day after the vote. He said he did not know who shared the information and that he changed his number the same day. Cannella did not detail the nature of the threats. He said the California Highway Patrol is making extra patrols of his neighborhood.

Cannella crossed party lines to vote for the measure after striking a side deal with legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown for nearly $500 million in funding to his district. A companion measure to the transportation tax bill allocates $400 million for an extension of a Bay Area commuter rail line, the Altamont Corridor Express, to Ceres and Merced and a $100 million parkway project between the University of California, Merced, campus and Highway 99.

Cannella said Thursday that he stands by his vote despite the backlash.

The lawmaker said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, made matters worse when he suggested that Cannella might personally benefit from the Altamont Corridor Express project during a radio interview on the “John and Ken Show” on KFI AM 640.

“It was just outrageous of a claim that fueled a lot of people that were already angry,” Cannella said.

Cannella called the comment “preposterous and absolutely ridiculous.”

“Anthony Cannella, by the way, ever since I’ve been in the Legislature, there’s not a tax that he doesn’t embrace,” Stone said on the radio program. “And I don’t know if you know this, but he’s a civil engineer by trade and owns a civil engineering company, and it’s interesting because this $500 million train has not been designed yet, and I’m sure they’re going to be looking for an engineering firm. I just put that out there so you can … ponder it.”

He also linked Cannella’s actions to prostitution.

“Let’s remember how President Reagan defined politics – he says, politics is the second-oldest profession although it bears a very close resemblance to the first,” Stone said in the interview. “Boy does that resonate here today.”

Stone denied allegations that he gave out Cannella’s personal information or had anything to do with it.

“That’s not true,” Stone said. “Completely not true. If you want to examine my cellphone, I’m happy to give it to any forensic companies. I’ve never had Sen. Cannella’s phone number. I don’t even have an email address for him. I don’t know where he lives.”

Stone said others suspected he publicized the information because of his comments on the radio show. He denounced the calls and threats to Cannella’s home.

“You should be able to call his office and leave complaints, but you’ve got to leave people’s personal lives out of their political decisions,” Stone said. “Don’t involve their family. I think that’s inappropriate.”

Gov. Jerry Brown on April 19, 2017 spoke with reporters about the gas tax increase to fix roads.

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the "arrangements" he made with California lawmakers to secure passage of a bill that raises the gas tax for road repairs on April 6, 2017.

Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, on April 6, 2017 spoke in support of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, which would guarantee that the gas tax and vehicle fee increase he and other lawmakers approved must be used for transportation projects.

Jim Miller of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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