There's an expression about crapping in your own nest... Fabian Nunez continues to poop in his nest but now he's got the ire of people who once supported him. I love it when they turn on each other.
The CA Term Limits Defense Fund has been thoroughly following "Lavishgate" up and down the state, from the LA Times, to The Sacramento Bee and The San Jose Mercury News. Here's more on the Nunez scandal:
Nunez's Conflict of Interest
Fabian Nunez is on the payroll of the lobby for California's hospitals. He's paid through his spouse so that the money goes into his personal bank account while he tries to maintain the fiction that his employer doesn't pose a huge conflict of interest. But now the California Nurses Association are calling out our ethically-challenged Speaker on his key role in negotiating an overhaul of California's health care system - an issue that affects every Californian - while profiting personally from one of the biggest interest groups at the center of this policy debate. Fabian's working for the hospital association - and himself - not the people of California.
This is another reason why term limits are so necessary - to prevent the accumulation of power and limit the opportunity for politicians to abuse their offices. Can you imagine how many different ways a Speaker Nunez if he was in office until 2014 would find to line his pockets if Prop. 93 passed?
Nurses group says Núñez has conflict
By Jim Sanders - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDT
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The California Nurses Association demanded Tuesday that Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez abstain from voting on health-care legislation because his wife works for a nonprofit agency bankrolled by the hospital industry.
"Californians can no longer trust that he will represent the public interest and not the financial interest of a large industry that has put his wife on their payroll," Zenei Cortez, spokeswoman for the association and for the National Nurses Organizing Committee, said in a written statement Tuesday.
The Bee reported Tuesday that Núñez's wife, Maria Robles, was hired at a six-figure salary in January to serve as president of Californians for Patient Care, a Sacramento-based nonprofit agency that receives nearly all its funding from the California Hospital Association.
Link to full article
and there's more...
Nunez's Second Income - the Scandal Grows
As if we needed further confirmation, is there any doubt why Fabian Nunez is pushing Proposition 93 to cripple term limits and enable the termed-out Speaker to keep his post until 2014?
Nunez hasn't been just caught with his hand in the cookie jar - he's covered in crumbs. "Lavishgate" - as the San Jose Mercury News has dubbed the Nunez scandal - isn't just about the Speaker violating state law by using his campaign account for personal use, international travel, and luxury items (we're sure the clothes and shoes purchased in Sacramento really were for those foreign dignitaries). It's also not just about the Speaker sharing a luxury loft with his fundraising consultant and paying a reduced rent while paying the fundraiser $600,000 from campaign funds.
It is about the Speaker literally cashing in - using his position as the second most powerful politician in California state government to generate money for his personal bank account.
As the Sacramento Bee reports in today's front-page story, the Speaker is clearly using his wife as a conduit for special interests and the politically connected to line his pockets. The bottom line is that she wouldn't be receiving six-figure "consulting" contracts if she wasn't married to Fabian Nunez and her "employers" didn't know the big buckers were actually going into Fabian's checking account. Supposedly Mrs. Nunez's contract with AQMD was $125,000 for arranging "seminars". Where can we get that gig? Oh, that's right, we can't. You have to be married to the Speaker of the Assembly to get that sweetheart contract.
In one newspaper account, the self-proclaimed middle class Speaker admits that he and his wife generate about $300,000 a year. That means his wife's income is at least equal to, and probably larger, than the Speaker. Her "employment" is key to the Speaker living in a $1.25 million dollar house in Sacramento with an annual mortgage and tax bill of almost $100,000. Frankly, that arouses even more suspicion about the true income of the Nunez household because $100,000 is a lot of money to pay even for people who make $300,000 a year.
The California Term Limits Defense Fund again calls on Nunez to immediately release his wife's list of all current clients and copies of her current and previous contracts. We also demand that the Speaker put these questions to rest by releasing his tax returns.
Oh, and Fabian, spare us the classic "how dare you attack my wife" defense. The Speaker's numerous financial and ethical lapses are the fundamental issue here. It is Nunez who made his wife part of this growing scandal by putting her on the payroll of the special interests.
The Sacramento Bee story follows:
Job of Núñez's wife at issue
Link to hospitals with stake in health reform criticized.
By Jim Sanders - Bee Capitol Bureau
Last Updated 12:07 am PDT Tuesday,
October 16, 2007
Shortly after Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez became a point man in the fight to expand health care for the uninsured, his wife accepted a lucrative job with close ties to hospitals that have a massive financial stake in such reform.
Maria Robles was hired as president of the nonprofit Californians for Patient Care in January, one month after Núñez introduced a bill declaring his intent to provide "affordable, quality health care coverage" to all Californians.
State law does not bar Robles from such employment, but it means that much of her salary - which apparently exceeds $100,000 - stems from contributions to the nonprofit agency by a powerful special interest that stands to gain billions if Núñez's health care efforts succeed.
Robles said she has never discussed health care reform with her husband.
"Fabian and I have this agreement," she said. "First of all, we don't see each other very much. When we do, we don't talk business. We just can't. The marriage would never survive."
But Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, said Robles' job can create the perception that special interests are paying Núñez indirectly.
"It certainly doesn't hurt them to have a financial relationship with his wife, even if she's doing absolutely nothing to influence Núñez," Stern said. "He has to know where the money is coming from."
Californians for Patient Care says its goal is to "preserve and improve a health care system that will be available when you, your family members or your friends and neighbors need it most."
The 3-year-old nonprofit agency does not employ lobbyists and makes no political contributions, records show.
Robles supervises a two-person staff whose primary job is to create a database of health care resources for Californians who lack private insurance. Her role also involves soliciting funds for future years, although she has not yet begun to do so, she said.
State law requires Robles to disclose her employment to the Fair Political Practices Commission, but not until March, more than a year after the latest health care debate began.
Robles declined to provide her salary, but she replaced Kristine Yahn, who received more than $140,000 per year, records show.
Núñez defended the right of his wife, a registered nurse, to accept the job.
"She's been in the (medical field) longer than you and I have been talking about health care," Núñez said. "And she's not been involved in policy in any way, shape or form."
Doug Heller, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said bankrolling a job for the wife of a legislative leader can do more for a special interest than a campaign contribution would.
"This is lifestyle protection," he said. "It's a way to provide personal financial benefits to a politician whose votes you depend on."
In announcing Robles' hire, Californians for Patient Care touted both her "political acumen" and her nursing expertise in emergency room care, oncology, pulmonary medicine, research, utilization and case management.
The group is not legally required to report its donors, and Robles declined to do so voluntarily. But by all accounts, the Sacramento nonprofit agency has close ties to the California Hospital Association.
C. Duane Dauner, president of the association, said his group worked with others to create the nonprofit agency in 2004, "because we felt it was important for there to be an organization to speak for patients."
Dauner said he doesn't know precisely what percentage of Californians for Patient Care's funding has come from his group.
"But we've given a substantial amount of it," said Dauner, whose association represents 450 hospitals and health systems.
The California Nurses Association, in a bulletin for members, characterized Californians for Patient Care two years ago as a "hospital industry front group."
"Now, to have (Núñez's) wife in a position to essentially lobby for the hospital industry, we think it's an enormous specter of concern," Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said.
Several times this year, Núñez's votes benefited hospitals and hurt patients - including his support for Senate Bill 306, allowing hospitals to extend by seven years a deadline for meeting seismic safety standards, DeMoro said.
Steve Maviglio, Núñez's spokesman, countered that the nurses association was the only organized opposition to SB 306, which received bipartisan support.
Maviglio, in a written statement, said Robles' job has had no impact on Núñez's votes and "it's absurd that the speaker's political enemies are trying to connect those dots."
He noted that in politics, it is not necessarily rare for a legislator's spouse to work in a job involving public issues.
David Townsend, a political consultant for the California Hospital Association, said his firm recommended Robles for the nonprofit post after she worked effectively on last year's tobacco tax initiative. That unsuccessful campaign was spearheaded by the hospital association.
Townsend described Robles - paid nearly $100,000 as a Proposition 86 consultant - as a perfect fit for the nonprofit job.
"She's articulate, hard working, attractive, bilingual and she knows health care inside and out," Townsend said. "She's the whole package."
Dauner said he also recommended Robles for the nonprofit job.
Jane Hirsch, a nursing professor and member of the Californians for Patient Care governing board, applauded Robles' performance.
"In my experience, she's very well qualified and has been very energetic and really done an amazing amount of work," Hirsch said.
Núñez's health care legislation, Assembly Bill 8, was a lightning rod for Capitol debate but ultimately was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The bill would have placed the onus on employers, not hospitals, to expand health insurance. Maviglio noted, however, that hospital officials have expressed numerous other concerns about the bill.
Schwarzenegger's health care plan, which has not been accepted by lawmakers, calls for the financial pain to be shared by employers, employees, insurers and government. He negotiated an agreement with the hospital association in which the latter would pay 4 percent of its revenue up front, with an expectation that they would be reimbursed with federal funds.
The California Hospital Association is a major contributor to both parties. Months ago, it donated $100,000 to Proposition 93, a term limits measure pushed by Núñez that would allow him to remain in power six extra years.
Robles, besides campaigning to pass Proposition 86, served as a consultant for the South Coast Air Quality Management District. She organized asthma conferences for the group this year and in 2006.
Robles' political ties apparently came in handy: Keynote speaker for the 2006 conference was Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Núñez's close friend. This year's conference featured addresses by Núñez and Schwarzenegger.
These people are pure slime. It's good to know just how slimy they are, and to what extent they will go to keep their fraudulent lifestyles.
You can take the thug out of the union, but you can't take the union out of the thug... my Nunez mantra.