Capitol Tracker: Lobbyists bestowed gifts on legislators


Legislative roles come with benefits, some of which are regulated.

Lawmakers in 2016 were allowed to take up to $460 worth of gifts from a single source in 2016. That figure doesn’t include travel to conferences in which the recipient is scheduled to participate.

Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) earned the top spot in 2016 among state legislators, receiving more than $9,000 in lobbyists gifts, including tickets to a Paul McCartney concert, a Maroon 5 concert and admission to Disneyland.

North Coast lawmakers Assemblyman Jim Wood and state Sen. Mike McGuire and their staffs received a fair share of gifts.

The only member of either of the two legislators’ staff to max out the $460 limit was Wood’s aide Voleck Taing who scored four suite tickets to “Disney on Ice: Frozen” and a parking pass from AT&T, according to a listing of the legislators’ gifts compiled by the Sacramento Bee. The list only includes gifts from lobbyists and companies that employ them.

Wood accepted his own $297 dinner at The Kitchen from the California Cattlemen’s Association.

In total, Wood and his staff received $2,542 worth of goodies and gifts courtesy of lobbyists in 2016.

In contrast, McGuire and his team received a paltry $596 worth of loot from lobbyists over the same period.

“I have a general policy of not accepting gifts,” McGuire said in a statement sent to the Times-Standard on Monday. “There were a couple of exceptions this year that I was honored to receive from the Lake County Board of Supervisors and the South Lake County Fire Protection District after the work we all did in response to the Valley Fire, which was the third worst in our state’s history.”

Wood’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Here are some of the expenditures reported to be received by Wood and his staff:

• $391 for Wood from California Association of Health Plans for a stay at JW Marriott Desert Springs;

• $348 for Wood from the California Dental Association and its wholly owned subsidiaries for a stay at W Hotel;

• $88 for Wood from Kaiser Foundation Health Plan for a trip to Downtown and Vine, which on the site’s website is described as “a wine bar with exceptional small plates to match with particular wine selection.”

• In addition to the $297 meal, the California Cattlemen’s Association also provided the assemblyman with a $40 breakfast at the Sutter Club and a $25 hat from the Bailey Hat Company. Members of Wood’s staff also received hats and breakfasts.

• Two members of Wood’s staff received $115 meals at Cafeteria 15L from the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. According to the establishment’s website, Cafeteria 15L is a “comfort and eclectic urban restaurant offering American comfort cuisine with a classic flair.”

Here are some of the expenditures reported to be received by McGuire and his staff:

• Three members of McGuire’s staff received $115 Cafeteria 15L meals from the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians in 2016. Together, those meals accounted for more than half of what the senator and his staff received as gifts from lobbyists.

• McGuire received a $3 gift bag from the Personal Care Products Council.

• McGuire received a $5 ice cream from Allstate Insurance.

• Senate Fellow Buck Ellingson received a $36 ticket to a film screening and a $39 ticket to a reception from Fox Group.

Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.