Our Political Class; 2020


Robin Abcarian:

But it’s Kinney’s role as a lobbyist that sounds alarms. For people in his job, it’s important to show the world you’ve got the governor’s ear. Doing so can help bring in business from companies eager — or desperate — to get the governor’s attention.

Thanks to Politico we know, for example, that Kinney’s lobbying firm represents several small amusement park operators who have been pushing the governor to let them reopen their rides. (They were allowed to briefly reopen before COVID-19 cases spiked and the restrictions were reinstated.) His firm’s biggest client is Marathon Petroleum, which, according to Politico, “is a member of a powerful oil industry organization that battled proposals to ban hydraulic fracturing.” In September, Newsom made what some think was a halfhearted call to ban fracking in the state.

“The buzz this weekend among lobbyists,” wrote Politico, “was how Kinney couldn’t have asked for better advertising of his close ties to Newsom.”

So, for anyone keeping score, a governor violating pandemic restrictions to attend a birthday dinner for a lobbyist may be a terrible look for the governor, but it’s a brilliant business move by the lobbyist. Was Newsom played? I guess it depends on who squealed to the Chronicle about the party.

Patrick McGreevy:

California lawmakers who flew to a conference in Maui amid the pandemic broke their silence over the controversy Wednesday, defending the trip by calling it safe despite officials in their home state advising people not to travel during the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

The travel by more than half a dozen state lawmakers has drawn sharp criticism back in California, where observers say it sends the wrong message for legislators to leave the state and gather at a resort when COVID-19 cases are surging, leading to tougher restrictions on the movement of average residents.

The annual conference hosted by the San Diego-based Independent Voter Project has also been blasted by watchdog groups because corporate and labor interests that lobby the Legislature pick up many of the lawmakers’ tabs for a chance to schmooze with them out of the public eye.

“In normal times it is an abuse of office to have oil, utility and other big companies that lobby in the Capitol paying for an Hawaiian getaway replete with golf, hula show and mai tais,” said Jamie Court, president of the group Consumer Watchdog. “In COVID times, it is an abomination that legislators would break quarantine to play in the sun at a four-star resort.”

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