The California Senate decided to take time out from its normal working routine and conduct a long-needed review of what constitutes ethical behavior. Two state senators have been charged with crimes by the FBI and another has been convicted of perjury. Scott Raecker, CEO of the Josephson Institute of Ethics conducted the meeting, aided by attorneys Lance Olson, Charles H. Bell, Sr. and John Panneton.
Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said:
While there is no ethics class, as I’ve said many times, that teaches the dangers of gun running or taking money in envelope, that’s not really what this session was about. It was about the more subtle and sometimes insidious impacts of all the money that exists in politics. The takeaway is very clear… Regardless of who supports you in your campaigns, if you disagree with them, then you vote against them.
Steinberg said he plans to address the ethics of fundraising practices. GOP State Senator Bob Huff was non-partisan in his comments, despite the fact that most of the corruption has involved Democrats. He said, “We all get painted with the same broad brush of integrity when members struggle and lapse.”
Huff ignored that Sens. Leland Yee of San Francisco and Ron Calderon of Montebello, charged with corruption, and Sen. Roderick Wright of Baldwin Hills, guilty of perjury, are all Democrats.
Other examples of unethical behavior include Sen. Tom Berryhill, (R-Twain Harte), who is accused of being involved in an FPPC campaign money laundering case; lobbyist Kevin Sloat coughing up $133,500 for forbidden campaign contributions, and three partners of California Strategies trying to influence legislators without being registered as lobbyists. Jason Kinney, one of the partners, works as a political consultant to the Senate Democrat caucus.