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Lobbyists’ gifts to state officials’ families must now be disclosed

December 10, 2009 | 11:27 am

When state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) took his wife and daughter to a Britney Spears concert at Staples Center in April, the $575 tab was picked up by AT&T, a phone company that was lobbying at the time on two dozen bills before the Legislature.

State law requires state officials to disclose the gifts they get from firms engaged in lobbying and not accept more than $420 from one source, but many gifts to the officials' relatives are not reportable or counted toward the gift limit.

In an effort to blunt the ability of firms to quietly seek influence with officials by bestowing gifts on their family members, the state Fair Political Practices Commission adopted rules today that would require disclosure of all lobbying firms' gifts to officials' spouses and children and to count them toward the elected officials' gift limit.

"The use of these gifts is to gain access to the public officials," said Commissioner Elizabeth Garrett. Agreed Commissioner Timothy A. Hodson, "They certainly did not give Britney Spears tickets out because they felt sorry for a family member who is a Britney Spears fan who just coincidentally happened to be a public official's family member."

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento