In a letter to California Speaker Anthony Rendon on Wednesday, Consumer Watchdog provided details of a utility junket in Maui with 12 state lawmakers while wildfires destroyed the state. They are now urging new immediate online disclosures about such trips.
The letter came after a New York Times article reported details of the junket where they have dubbed the 12 legislators the “Wailea 12” who received more than $630,000 in campaign contributions.
The lawmakers included:
- Tom Daly
- Frank Bigelow
- Bill Brough
- Jim Cooper
- Heath Flora
- Jim Frazier
- Reggie Jones-Sawyer
- Freddie Rodriguez
- Blanca Rubio
- Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon
- Senator Ben Hueso
- Senator Cathleen Galgiani
According to the letter:
All voted in 2018 to make ratepayers pay for the 2017 fires even if utilities were found to be negligent.
The letter also added:
It’s shameful that while wildfire victims fled for their lives, and many lost them, legislative policy about the wildfires was being made over Mai Tais in Maui with utilities executives and lobbyists. Such junkets should stop, but if they do not then the legislators, lobbyists and lobbyist employers involved should at least be required to disclose them in real time on their websites to constituents. Currently, as you know, legislators only disclose paid-‐‑for travel and accommodations for these junkets once per year on their statements of economic interest. The public is left in the dark about how and when their elected officials hob nob with special interests who have business before the legislature.
Consumer Watchdog urges you to institute new rules for your respective houses that require sitting legislators to disclose on their public websites the educational “seminars” and trips they attend when they accept an invitation and the lobbyists attending as well. Had this been a requirement for the Wailea trip in November many legislators would likely have reconsidered their attendance
SB-901 was introduced by Bill Dodd last September and was approved in a 49-14 vote in the State Assembly and a 29-4 vote in the State Senate. Under the bill, it allows the state to pass on wildfire costs to ratepayers. The state would dedicate $1 billion over five years to fire-reducing efforts such as clearing brush and setting prescribed fires.