Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar) received $8,950 in speaking fees in 1988--more than the combined totals of eight other San Fernando Valley-area lawmakers.
Katz reported in his 1988 financial disclosure statement that he donated $2,200 in honorariums from three speeches to charities but, reversing his past practices, retained the remaining $6,750 from five lectures.
“I want to give some of them away if I can,” Katz said Thursday of the lecture fees. “Sometimes, frankly, they help my personal cash flow at the time we receive them. We’ll still continue to give as many away as we can.”
In 1987, he had steered his entire $2,100 from six speeches to nonprofit groups. “There’s a cloud over honorariums that is subject to misinterpretation,” he said last year.
Katz’s economic interest report was one of four filed with the state Fair Political Practices Commission by Valley-area lawmakers that became available Thursday. Each was postmarked before Wednesday’s midnight deadline.
Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) reported that he accepted $500 each for speeches to the Assn. of California Life Insurance Companies and the California Automatic Vendors Assn., as well as gifts totaling $787. State Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Tarzana) received $1,408 in gifts, and Assemblyman Terry B. Friedman (D-Los Angeles), $1,708. Both said they took no honorariums.
Overall, the nine Valley-area legislators accepted a relatively modest $23,706 in gifts and travel expenses and $16,036 in fees for speeches and conference panels, primarily from special interests pushing bills in the Legislature, according to the reports. The five other lawmakers’ filings were the focus of a story in Thursday’s Times.
Assemblywoman Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) received the greatest amount, with a total of $15,241 in gifts and speaking fees. Katz, who took $4,690 in gifts in addition to his honorariums, was second with $13,640. The other seven received lesser amounts. Four lawmakers reported that they accepted no honorariums--a commonplace but often-criticized practice. A fifth lawmaker said he gave all his speaking fees to charities.
Valley lawmakers fell far short of the tallies of Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco), who reported collecting more than $100,000 in speaking fees, gifts and travel expenses. He is the undisputed leader in these realms.
There were no limits last year on such monies; a $1,000-a-year limitation on gifts and speaking fees from any source went into effect in January under Proposition 73, passed in June, 1988.
Katz’s speaking fees included $2,500 from Tutor-Saliba Corp., a large Sylmar construction firm that is widening the Ventura Freeway; $2,000 from the San Francisco law firm of Stone & Younger; $1,500 from Carl Terzian Associates, a Los Angeles public relations company, and $1,000 from the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance.
Katz, chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, said most of his speeches focused on the state’s transportation crisis. This included the Tutor-Saliba address before more than 100 community leaders at a Los Angeles luncheon in September.
“The honorariums I take are for speeches that are given, and I can justify that and show what went into them and the benefit,” Katz said, apparently contrasting his practices with those of legislators who take fees for attending seminars or conferences.
Katz added that he would support a ban on honorariums as well as other outside income if legislators’ salaries were significantly raised, a position advocated by Brown. Lawmakers are paid $40,816 a year as well as a daily allowance of $88 for legislative business.
Katz also reported that he earned from $1,001 to $10,000 from printing, layout and design work for both RK Graphics, his Sepulveda business, and Tee Graphics in Monrovia.
The veteran lawmaker gave $1,700 from two speeches to Johnnie Carpenter’s Heaven on Earth Ranch in Lake View Terrace and $500 from another to the Planning and Conservation League. John Carpenter is a retired Hollywood stunt man who uses his stables and Western sets to do shows for developmentally disabled children from the Valley.
“It’s an opportunity for the kids who never get to see a Hollywood stunt man or a cowboy up close,” Katz said. “It’s fantastic for them.”