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Landing pad for Ashburn?

December 29, 2010 |  5:20 pm

Has former GOP state Sen. Roy Ashburn, who broke with Republicans to support higher taxes last year, been rewarded by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with a plum assignment?

According to Jon Fleischman's FlashReport, Ashburn has been appointed to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, a post that carries a $128,109 annual salary. Attention is focused on Schwarzenegger because he has the majority of appointments on the board, whose members are chosen by the governor and legislative leaders. State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg has already made his appointment, and a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez says Ashburn is not his selection.

Schwarzenegger's press office said it had no knowledge of Ashburn's appointment but would probably be announcing a number of appointments Thursday.

Ashburn was one of a small group of Republicans who voted for temporary tax increases on sales, vehicles and income in February 2009.

Termed out in November, the Bakersfield Republican made headlines this year when he came out as gay after being arrested on drunk driving charges following a visit to a gay club. Afterward, he positioned himself as a gay activist, apologizing for his past votes and actions, including organizing a rally against legislation allowing same-sex marriage and opposing a measure creating an annual Harvey Milk Day, in honor of the slain gay-rights leader.

In May, he spoke on the Senate floor against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento