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Panel headed by Senate leader appoints his friend to six-figure post

Panel headed by Senate leader appoints his friend to six-figure post
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, speaking on a bill at the Capitol in Sacramento last year. He has appointed a friend and former campaign manager to a high-paying board post. (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

SACRAMENTO -- A panel chaired by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has quietly appointed a longtime friend and former campaign manager of his to a position on the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, which meets once a month and pays members $128,000 annually.

Sacramento attorney John Adkisson had previously held contracts providing legal training to the Legislative Counsel's office, and served as the director of the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes formed by Steinberg in 2009.

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Adkisson ran Steinberg's first successful political campaign for Sacramento City Council in 1992 and the pro tem told the Sacramento Bee a few years ago that Adkisson was "one of my dearest friends."

Mark Hedlund, a spokesman for Steinberg, said the Rules Committee appointment is justified. "John Adkisson is well qualified as a licensed attorney with several years of experience as an arbitrator and mediator working under the American Arbitration Association," Hedlund said.

The appointment is a little bit of a change for the appeals board, which for years has been a soft landing spot for legislators after they leave office.

Current board members include former Assemblyman Michael Allen and former state Sen. Roy Ashburn.

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