In an effort to bolster its political power in Sacramento, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is moving to hire Gov. George Deukmejian’s controversial former finance director, Michael Franchetti, as a $36,000-a-year budget consultant and lobbyist.
A final decision is not expected until next week, but Franchetti attended a meeting at the Capitol on Wednesday between Administration officials and several members of the staff of James Hankla, Los Angeles County’s chief administrative officer. Both Franchetti and Hankla, in separate interviews, said that Franchetti would deal exclusively with the governor’s office, leaving legislative lobbying duties to others.
Failed to Win Confirmation
Franchetti served as Deukmejian’s finance director on an interim basis from the beginning of the governor’s term until early last year. During a bitter struggle between the Republican governor and Senate Democratic leaders, however, Franchetti was not confirmed for the post and left the Administration in January, 1984. He entered private law practice and worked as a lobbyist.
At the core of the dispute were allegations that during the 1978 campaign, Franchetti, then a deputy attorney general, had leaked to news reporters a confidential Justice Department report containing a false rumor that Democrat Mervyn Dymally was about to be indicted. Franchetti denied leaking the report. Dymally, now a congressman from Los Angeles, was then seeking reelection as lieutenant governor. He eventually lost to Republican Mike Curb.
If Franchetti is hired, the move might help Hankla persuade the Deukmejian Administration that Los Angeles County--despite a proposed $6.2-billion spending program for the 1985-86 fiscal year--is in its tightest financial squeeze since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978.
Franchetti’s hiring would be an indication that the conservative majority of the board--Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich, Pete Schabarum and Deane Dana--apparently feel the need for help with the governor’s office on the budget issue despite their close personal and political ties with Deukmejian.
Hankla and Dana said that Franchetti would be hired primarily for his knowledge of the state budget process. But both officials conceded that the longtime Deukmejian ally also would be a valuable force to push the county’s case before the Administration. Dana said that, although some members of the Legislature are beginning to recognize the county’s fiscal problems, “it still requires a stand by the governor.”
Reached at his San Francisco law office, Franchetti said: “I was basically approached by the county to see if I could assist them in dealing with the state Administration and in dealing with fiscal matters.”
Franchetti said that the county would join a list of clients that includes the California Business Council, Seagrams Wine Co. and the California Trucking Assn. All of his Sacramento dealings, he added, are exclusively with the executive branch.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Ed Edelman, a Democrat, said that he supports hiring Franchetti because “we can use all the help we can get.”
At least one supervisor, Democrat Kenneth Hahn, is said to be opposed to Franchetti’s hiring.