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3 Area Legislators Garner Bulk of Gifts, Fees

June 04, 1987|ROBERT D. DAVILA and MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writers

The eight state legislators from the Glendale-Northeast Los Angeles area received a total of $225,045 last year in speech fees and gifts, with the presents ranging from trips to Europe to premiums paid on legislators' home insurance.

However, the distribution was far from equal. Three legislative leaders from the area--Senate President Pro Tempore David A. Roberti, Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Roos and Assembly Minority Leader Patrick J. Nolan--received more than 70% of the total, each earning more than their state salaries.

Roberti (D-Los Angeles) led with $62,748 in 1986, including $45,850 for speeches and $16,898 in gifts, according to statements filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Roos (D-Los Angeles) received $53,079, including $39,079 in gifts and $14,000 in honorariums. Nolan (R-Glendale) pushed his total last year to $44,645, including gifts worth $25,645 and $19,000 for speeches.

Legislators receive $37,105 in annual salary and a tax-free allowance of $75 a day when in session. But, aside from annual reporting requirements, there are no restrictions on how much outside income the lawmakers may earn in gifts or speech fees, nor on how much a single person or group may give.

Such income is separate from contributions to legislators' election campaigns, which also must be reported periodically but are not limited in amount.

Some lawmakers say they cannot maintain homes in Sacramento and their districts and pay other expenses without accepting outside income. But others warn that gifts and speech fees increase the influence of special-interest groups.

Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, who reported more than $126,000 in gifts and speech fees last year, called in March for an increase in legislative salaries in return for banning outside income. Brown (D-San Francisco) suggested a salary of $75,000. But his press secretary, Susan Jetton, said Monday that the speaker has shelved his proposal in favor of a similar bill being drafted by Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights).

Meanwhile, Sen. H. L. Richardson (R-Glendora) has proposed returning to a part-time Legislature, leaving lawmakers more time to hold other jobs. But the idea stands little chance of becoming law, conceded Richardson's press secretary, Marsha Williams.

"There is such a thing as proposing the possible and proposing the impossible," she said. "There is no way you could get 119 other legislators to accept a cut in income."

Roberti's income from 29 speeches last year was more than double the $21,300 he received at 17 gatherings in 1985. He proved popular in 1986 with the San Diego Community College District, which paid a total of $6,000 for three speaking engagements, according to his Statement of Economic Interests filed with the FPPC.

Proposition 51 Gifts

A single address to the California Trucking Assn. earned Roberti $5,000. Two speeches to the California Applicant Attorneys Assn., a group of workers' compensation lawyers, also paid a total of $5,000 to the senator, whose 23rd District includes Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Glassell Park and Echo Park.

The Democratic leader also addressed both sides of Proposition 51, the June, 1986, ballot initiative to limit accident defendants' liability for pain-and-suffering damages. Roberti received $1,900 from the Assn. for California Tort Reform, whose campaign helped win the measure's passage, and $2,000 from the California Trial Lawyers Assn., which opposed it.

The bulk of Roberti's $16,898 in gifts came from a $10,018 trip to Spain and Italy paid for by the Assn. for Italian-American InterExchange, an Italian business group.

The 19-day trip included a stop in New Orleans on Roberti's return to attend a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Guest of Thailand

Travel also more than doubled Roos' gift income from $16,251 in 1985. The assemblyman, who sits on the International Trade Committee, was the guest of the government of Thailand, which paid $12,168 for a weeklong trip for four, a leather briefcase and a silver box.

Back at home, the insurance industry paid some of Roos' travel and personal expenses. The Assn. of California Insurance Cos. picked up the $5,603 tab for a five-day trip to London in March, 1986, and LFC Insurance Co. of Los Angeles paid Roos' $690 homeowner's insurance premium. An individual associated with LFC paid $500 for Roos' golf-course fees.

Beneficial Management Corp., a consumer-loan company, paid $2,794 for two trips and $178 for golf fees and food for Roos.

Lynn Montgomery, Roos' press secretary, said the Asian trip was arranged by constituents and Thai officials seeking ways to increase import-export business in Southern California.

The trip to England enabled Roos and other legislators to speak with Lloyd's of London representatives about problems in the insurance industry, Montgomery said. LFC annually pays the insurance premium on the assemblyman's home, she added.

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