SACRAMENTO -- A. John Shimmon, 80, a Democratic activist whose son is one of Gov. Gray Davis' most generous campaign contributors, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday as a member of the state Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.
Davis' nomination of Shimmon to the $114,191 a year position was approved on a bipartisan 28-2 vote, over the opposition of Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga and Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks).
In floor debate, McClintock charged that Shimmon's "only qualification for this office is that his son gave a six-figure campaign contribution to the governor for his reelection. We all know what this governor is doing."
The son, David Shimmon, a Silicon Valley executive and racehorse owner, has given $550,000 to Davis' campaigns. A $200,000 contribution in 1999 made him the governor's biggest individual donor.
But Senate leader John Burton (D-San Francisco) defended the appointee, recalling that the elder Shimmon was an employee of the state Board of Equalization for 37 years. He also served as a deputy and political advisor to the late Democratic board member George Reilly.
A longtime friend of A. John Shimmon, Burton told McClintock it was no sin to make campaign contributions. He conceded that the appointee was new to workers' compensation law, but said Shimmon was known for his "common sense" and was experienced in both government fiscal issues and private business operations.
The Senate also voted 33 to 0 to approve the governor's appointment of political consultant Maeley Tom of Sacramento to the state Personnel Board. For 20 years, Tom served as a top-level manager to former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and retired Senate leader David A. Roberti, both Democrats.
Several GOP senators said later they did not vote on Tom's appointment because they did not know her personally.