10:00 PM PDT on Monday, August 29, 2011

BY JIM MILLER
SACRAMENTO BUREAU
jmiller@pe.com

SACRAMENTO – Does Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries’ office payroll rank among the highest in the Assembly, as shown in the Assembly expenditure data for the first seven months of 2011?

Or is the Lake Elsinore Republican’s payroll actually among the lowest, based on employee salary data available on the Assembly website?

Inland Southern California lawmakers largely have been on the sidelines during a weeks-long squabble over legislative office expenditures that has led to scrutiny of how lawmakers’ offices spend their money.

Jeffries said his office has nothing to hide. He and other GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, scoff at the idea that any Republican office spends more than that of someone in the Democratic majority.

“The expenditure of public dollars should be fully disclosable and obtainable by anybody at any time,” Jeffries said. “Why it’s been kept in this cloud of secrecy … is beyond me.”

That cloud largely remains in place following Assembly and Senate leaders’ release late Friday afternoon of updated expenditure data.

The data, in the same format as what’s released every fall for the previous legislative year, leave unclear the extent to which lawmakers benefit from party caucus and committee spending.

In the new Senate data, for example, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton is listed as having 2010 office expenditures of $1.2 million — almost a half-million dollars more than the $709,344 attributed to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who controls the upper house.

Dutton spokesman Larry Venus said the Rancho Cucamonga Republican accepted the figures for his office. Venus, however, called it impossible that “the Senate minority leader has expenditures twice as high as the Senate pro tem.”

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