As he investigates Trump's aides, special counsel's record shows surprising flaws

This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:

  • California senators advanced three immigration-related bills Tuesday, including a proposal to fund legal aid for immigrants in the state who face deportation.
  • What has each member of California's congressional delegation said about President Trump's executive order on immigration? Find out your representative's position here.
  • California's congressional Democrats came out forcefully against Trump's immigration directives over the weekend, while Republican members of Congress held their fire.

You can find our December news feed archive here.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter for more, or subscribe to our free daily newsletter and the California Politics Podcast

Assemblyman contends it's against the law for the Legislature to hire its own outside counsel

Legislative leaders brought in the legal big guns to fend off President-elect Donald Trump when they announced last week they selected former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. to help craft policy and courtroom strategy against the incoming president.

But Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley says the new hire is against the law.

Kiley, a freshman lawmaker representing the Sacramento suburbs, asserted late last week that by retaining Holder's firm, Covington & Burling, the Legislature violated the state Constitution.

In a letter to the state attorney general's office, Kiley cites Article VII of the California Constitution, which forbids the state from privately contracting for services that could be rendered "adequately and competently" by existing civil employees.

Kiley notes that the state attorney general's office consists of more than 1,500 attorneys and professional staff, including a division that coordinates the attorney general's communications with the Legislature.

“In light of these facts, I respectfully ask your legal opinion as to whether the 1,592 attorneys and legal staff at the State Attorney General’s Office can perform ‘adequately and competently’ the legal services for which Covington & Burling has been retained by the Legislature,” Kiley wrote.

He requested the attorney general's office respond with a legal opinion to his query — a process that could take months.

Aides to Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) dismissed Kiley's charge, noting the Legislature has retained outside counsel for legal advice in the past.

"The Legislature has inherent power to obtain the services of the best resources available to it to understand the implications of public policy in its law-making function, including the interaction between state and federal law," said Anthony Reyes, a spokesman for De León. "The provisions of law requiring a state agency to obtain the consent of the Attorney General before employing outside counsel expressly exclude the Legislature."

Latest updates

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World