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January 30, 2012 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
Without picking a side in the entertaining Republican presidential contest, let us stipulate that Mitt Romney was smack on target when he called Newt Gingrich an influence peddler. A lobbyist? No, not in a legal sense. But did he lobby? Yes, in the common usage of the word. An influence peddler? That pretty much covers it. Many Sacramento lobbyists and their cousin "consultants" got a chuckle out of the fiery Romney-Gingrich exchange in the Jan. 23 Florida debate. There was Romney, pulling out the old pejorative "lobbyist," and the former House speaker resisting it as if he were being called a con man or a pimp.
January 14, 2012 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Sacramento -- California building contractors were thrilled when waterless urinals came on the market, thinking the devices would save them a fortune in plumbing costs. The state building code would need to be changed, but that seemed an easy sell. The fixtures would prevent billions of gallons of water from being wasted, and California's environmental lobby could be counted on as a powerful ally. There was one hitch. His name was Scott Wetch. Wetch is a Sacramento lobbyist for labor unions, and urinals without water pipes would not be good for his clients in the building trades.
December 8, 2011 | By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
State lawmakers and city council members can accept expensive gifts from lobbyists without disclosure if they are dating, and can receive meals and lodging in lobbyists' homes without telling the public, under rules approved Thursday by the state ethics agency. In addition, officials can accept tickets to Major League Baseball games and other sports and entertainment events if they are performing a "ceremonial duty," such as throwing out the first pitch. They no longer have to report such gifts, although their government agency must do so, and now they can bring a guest.
November 23, 2011 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
The top two firms competing to secure a $100,000 public relations contract from the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission abruptly dropped out of the running Tuesday, throwing the panel's work into turmoil. Dakota Communications and Cerrell Associates withdrew their proposals shortly before the 21-member commission was scheduled to vote. They did so the same day The Times reported that they have an array of lobbying clients at City Hall, including airport concessions and shopping malls — a fact that irritated some neighborhood activists and advocacy groups.
November 22, 2011 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
Lobbying firms with an array of clients needing help from Los Angeles City Hall are vying for a consulting contract on a matter near to City Council members' hearts: redrawing the political boundaries that can affect their power — and their reelection chances. The council's 21-member Redistricting Commission is slated to vote Tuesday to pay a public relations consultant up to $100,000 to inform residents of the plan to draw new borders for the council's 15 districts. The top three finalists are registered as lobbyists at City Hall, representing such interests as shopping malls, renewable energy developers and at least one billboard company.
August 8, 2011 | By Anthony York, Los Angeles Times
At a time when many nonprofits are struggling to remain afloat, watching contributions sputter amid an ailing economy, two small Bay Area charter schools are having a banner year, with hundreds of thousands of dollars gushing into their coffers. Big energy companies, telecommunication interests and Indian tribes are lining up to write checks. So are unions, Sacramento lobbyists and Hollywood celebrities. Many of these donors have something to gain in addition to the warm feelings and tax deductions that come with helping a worthy cause: a chance to get in the good graces of Gov. Jerry Brown.
August 3, 2011 | By Kathleen Hennessey, Tom Hamburger, Los Angeles Times
Hours after Congress and the White House agreed that a yet-unformed "super committee" from the House and Senate should decide how to slash the deficit in coming months, a Washington parlor game began: Who will the 12 "super members" be? Speculation ran rampant on Capitol Hill, although congressional leaders, weary from the bruising debt ceiling battle, kept quiet about whom they might tap. Instead, they gamely offered up the necessary qualifications for the potential candidates. Each one must be "serious," "open-minded," "principled" and, perhaps, a "glutton for punishment.
June 25, 2011
The California Legislature has strict deadlines for proposing bills, moving them out of committee and getting them to the other house. And there are easy ways to abuse or circumvent those rules. For example, a lawmaker whose bill went down to defeat early in the session can revive it simply by stripping language from a more successful piece of proposed legislation that is headed to a vote and inserting the language from the bill that didn't make it the first time around. This tactic often seems sneaky and underhanded.
June 18, 2011 | By David Zahniser and Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times
A court-appointed overseer in a massive housing fraud case is demanding that former city councilman-turned-political consultant Richard Alatorre explain nearly $1 million in payments he received from a developer accused of bilking Los Angeles and other entities of at least $134 million. Attorney David Pasternak, the receiver in the case, said he has found scant records explaining what Alatorre did for the steady stream of payments he received between 2002 and 2010. The politically connected firm at the heart of the scandal, Los Angeles-based Advanced Development and Investment, is under scrutiny from the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. attorney's office.
May 18, 2011 | By Sharon Bernstein, Los Angeles Times
The restaurant industry is quietly — and successfully — fighting back against the enactment of so-called Happy Meal bans, which forbid restaurants like McDonald's to hand out toys with children's meals that are high in calories. Moving under the radar so stealthily that in some cases local politicians and anti-obesity activists missed it entirely, lobbyists in Florida and Arizona backed successful efforts to take away the power to enact such bans from cities and counties. In Nebraska, a proposed statewide Happy Meal ban died in February, even before its first legislative committee hearing.
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