By Patrick McGreevy and Anthony York, Los Angeles Time
April 19, 2013, 8:50 p.m.
SACRAMENTO — As Gov. Jerry Brown returned this week from his trade mission to China, his decision to have his travel and that of 10 staffers paid for by special interests was raising eyebrows.
The dozens of delegates who joined Brown on the tour for $10,000 each — footing their bills and that of the governor’s entourage — included about 15 groups that lobby the state for favorable treatment on their agendas.
The California Hospital Assn., Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors and other interests sent along representatives — in one case a lobbyist — affording them face time with the governor during layovers, meals and receptions.
“I have lots of concerns about who is paying for the trip,” said Robert Stern, an open-government advocate who helped Brown write California’s main political ethics law in the 1970s. “Basically, it is special interests who want something from government.”
The companies and groups represented on the tour included the Wine Institute, Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co., FedEx Corp., United Airlines, State Farm Insurance, HSBC, Siemens Corp., audit and consulting company Deloitte and housing development firms Five Point Communities and Lennar Urban.
Siemens, an engineering and electronics business, has expressed interest in working on California’s high-speed-rail project. The Wine Institute advocates on marketing issues. Banks want to fend off mortgage and finance laws they consider burdensome, and the beverage industry weighs in when lawmakers want to change rules on alcohol.
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