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THE STATE | THE CALIFORNIA BUDGET

Lawmaker's Salary Cut a Fax Faux Pas

January 11, 2003|Nancy Vogel | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Call it the premature press release.

On Friday afternoon, within an hour after Gov. Gray Davis unveiled a plan to bridge California's looming budget shortfall, the office of Assemblywoman Patricia Wiggins faxed to reporters a press release in which Wiggins vowed to cut her own salary by 5%.

The release said Wiggins, a Democrat who represents parts of Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties, would ask the state controller to deposit the $4,950 annual savings in the state general fund as a demonstration of "personal sacrifice."

"Fixing California's budget is going to be painful," said Wiggins in the press release, titled "Wiggins Cuts Own Salary." "I personally want to do my part."

About an hour later, Wiggins' staff faxed out a second press release.

"Please disregard previous news release sent this afternoon," it said. "Assemblymember Wiggins had not authorized the news release and it was faxed by staff error. The assemblymember would greatly appreciate your organization not running any story based on her previous release."

Legislative consultant Dan Flynn took the blame.

"I misinterpreted the instructions and I just sent it out," said Flynn. He was filling in for a vacationing press secretary.

Matt Reilly, Wiggins' chief of staff, said the assemblywoman had no comment and she "was not very happy."

He said he had broached the idea of a 5% pay cut with her this week, but she had not made up her mind when the first press release reached reporters.

"I don't know if you can read anything into it other than staff made a mistake," Flynn said.

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