Reporting from Sacramento — Months after waiving environmental laws for a proposed football stadium, some legislators were treated by the venue's developer to hard-to-get tickets to Lakers playoff games, according to new disclosures filed with the state.
The $1,400 in basketball tickets were among dozens of gifts valued at tens of thousands of dollars that lobbying firms reported giving to state officials in the last three months. The gifts included rounds of golf, Disneyland tickets, expensive meals, movie passes and liquor.
The gifts are legal but raise questions about whether special interests bestow them in an effort to garner favorable treatment from lawmakers, said Derek Cressman, regional director of Common Cause. He noted that a proposal to limit such gifts to $10 a month died in the Legislature earlier this year.
"There is no good reason to allow these gifts, and the practice should be banned," Cressman said.
State ethics laws require lobbying firms to report quarterly on their gifts to state officials, and disclosures filed by a Monday deadline showed that lawmakers and their family members and staffs continued to be wined and dined by those seeking to influence their votes.
The Legislature voted late last year to approve a bill that waived state environmental rules for a 75,000-seat football stadium proposed by Majestic Realty Co. in the City of Industry.
Majestic reported providing about $400 worth of Lakers tickets for June playoff games to Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton), who introduced the waiver legislation, as well as Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) and Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Montebello). The lawmakers could not be reached, and a Majestic representative declined comment.
Another big gift-giver was Walt Disney Co., which has been lobbying the state on employment regulations. It provided state officials with thousands of dollars in tickets to "Iron Man 2" and "Toy Story 3." The company also gave Disneyland passes to officials including Ron Calderon; his were worth $194.
The California Tribal Business Alliance, which is fighting a bill that would legalize Internet poker, reported treating lawmakers to dinner at the Rolling Hills Casino and paying for $45 rounds of golf for Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Newark) and his wife at Sevillano Links Golf Course. Torrico, who sits on a committee that deals with gambling issues, plans to reimburse the alliance for the costs, an aide said.
The lobbyists' reports also showed that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) received a banner, plaque and meal valued at $420 from the California Labor Federation, though Pérez is challenging that sum as excessive.
Software-maker Oracle, which has been lobbying on tax and technology issues, paid for a $120 dinner for Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), a member of a panel on Internet media.
PricewaterhouseCoopers picked up a $95 dinner tab for Charles Calderon.
And the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States purchased $159 worth of alcohol for Assemblyman Joe Coto (D-San Jose) from Beverages & More.