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Jerry Brown seeks to scuttle high-paid job for ex-GOP leader

August 11, 2011 | 10:53 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to torpedo the nomination by his predecessor of a former top Republican lawmaker to a lucrative government post.

One of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's final acts in office was to appoint Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta), a former GOP leader, to a $128,000-a-year seat on the state panel that considers unemployment benefit claims. 

The position is considered one of the most plum in state government; six of the seven spots are currently held by ex-legislators who received a soft landing there after leaving office.

Schwarzenegger named Hollingsworth to the job on his last full day in office, after the two had struck a bond through months of intense budget talks and a shared love of cigars.

There's no such connection with Brown, a Democrat. The Brown administration has asked the Democrats who control the state Senate to scuttle Hollingsworth's confirmation. If confirmed, Hollingsworth would be eligible to hold the job until September 2013. Otherwise, he can only serve until the end of the year.

"In conversation with the Senate, the administration expressed our intention that Dennis' confirmation not go forward," Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said. 

Ashford wouldn't say why: "As you know, when administrations change, appointees do also. The administration is going in a different direction."

In recent months, Brown has had a particularly testy relationship with the conservative Senate GOP caucus that Hollingsworth once led.

The current Republican leader, Sen. Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga, has complained that the governor's wife "yelled at" him during budget talks. And those bipartisan discussions essentially died for good the day in June that Senate Republicans gathered outside the door to the governor's suite to blame Brown for the stalemate.

Senate Democrats appear to be listening to Brown's plea to freeze Hollingsworth's appointment. Next week's agenda for the Senate Rules Committee, which vets nominees, lists the other two pending appointments to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, but not Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth did not return a call for comment Thursday.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento


Photo: Members of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board; former Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) is the second from the left. Credit: California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board