As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nunez-gate: Skelton Weighs In

The grand poohbah of the Sacto press corps, taking his whacks.

Memo to editor:

Water is a huge issue right now in the California Legislature. So to broaden my perspective, I propose traveling to Italy to study the ancient Roman aqueduct.

It's even older than the state water project. Both are outdated, and I could put this all into context for our readers.

There's a convenient hotel in Rome at the top of the Spanish Steps where I can stay for $730 a night.

Best, Your stir-crazy Sacramento columnist.

He goes on like that for a while. If money is the mother's milk of politics, money scandals are the mother's milk of political columnists.

Skelton also makes the point that none of this would happen with public financing, but he dismisses is as an unrealizable goal, at least for now, because anything that reduces the amount of spending on political activities will be met with fear and loathing by the political establishment. He invokes the golden rule: "If you can't explain it, don't do it." And then, at the end of the column, in comes Fabian to explain:

After my deadline -- after I'd written this column -- Nuñez called to explain.

He "became a hit around the world" after his global warming bill passed last year, the speaker said, and received many foreign invitations. "The dollar is pretty darn weak in Europe these days" and that runs up expenses, he added. He also buys lots of gifts for dignitaries, staffers and other legislators.

Nuñez defended paying for all this with political money rather than tax dollars. "My conscience wouldn't allow me to do that, so I use my campaign funds. That's between me and the people who contribute."

But what about the wine trip? The French organized it.

"I know this stuff doesn't look good. But it's legitimate. I did not do anything wrong."

He didn't say he was pretty much middle class in this one, so the explanations are getting better. But just because you "became a hit" doesn't mean you actually have to show up around the world. In some ways, this explanation is far worse, actually. It's almost an admission that these activities had nothing to do with California government business.

Note also the plea to his own conscience, that he had to protect the taxpayers from paying for these trips and instead hit up corporate donors who will in turn impact legislation that will bankrupt the taxpayers many times over.

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