Democratic lawmakers from California recently took a break in the midst of “intense state budget negotiations” to travel up to a wine-country lodge complete with gourmet food, rooms, and cocktails with a trio of interests footing the $14,000 bill.
At the time of the retreat, the Consumer Attorneys of California (who, along with labor unions, had been pushing to roll back some labor rules) the California Professional Firefighters (seeking to protect funding for fire safety programs) and the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council (lobbying for greater roles for private contractors in state construction) all had strong interest in the proceedings.
The getaway came a day after Gov. Schwarzenegger declared a state of fiscal emergency and ordered the Legislature to discuss a series of proposals to plug a projected $42-bilion budget gap.
For the most part, each group had its interests protected in the budget package passed in February – though each group denied the retreat had anything to do with the budget.
Such extravagance gifted to lawmakers is not uncommon; groups with business before the state commonly bankroll such outings. Dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse with a $144 price tag, tickets to Disneyland, and $13,211 trip to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, among many others, were revealed last week in documents filed by lawmakers.
Indecent lobbying goes down best with a vintage cabernet.