State Legislators Received $265,000 in Gifts, $580,000 in Travel Payments

California Common Cause report highlights how officials take advantage of loopholes

SACRAMENTO – A report released today by California Common Cause examines personal financial statements submitted by California state legislators. It highlights the extent to which politicians receive gifts from special interests and the extent to which they repurpose surplus campaign funds for their own personal benefit.

The report analyzes statements covering 2013 and finds that over $840,000 in gifts and travel payments were received by California legislators. This includes $65,000 for tickets to concerts and sporting events and over $100,000 in free meals.

“With ongoing federal investigations into potential ethics violations by several state lawmakers, this report highlights that there are many legal channels through which special interests exert their influence in Sacramento,” said Kathay Feng, executive director for California Common Cause.

“While Californians across the state exchange gifts this month in celebration of the holidays, its worth taking a minute to reflect on the year-round, not-so-secret Santa happening in the state Capitol,” said Sarah Swanbeck, policy and legislative affairs advocate for California Common Cause. “What we’re seing is a growing trend in both the number of gifts and the total value of those gifts given by powerful special interest groups to state lawmakers.” 

The report concludes with recommendations to the Legislature and the Fair Political Practices Commission on how to close ethics loopholes to prevent future abuses.

2014 personal financial statements will become available in Spring 2015.

Download the report here