Brown, Maddy Give Eulogies at Rites for ‘King of Lobbyists’


A who’s who of state Capitol notables attended funeral services Tuesday for James D. Garibaldi, the man who was called the king of Sacramento lobbyists.

For more than four decades and through the reign of seven governors, Garibaldi twisted legislators’ arms to obtain votes on bills that his clients, including the powerful liquor and horse-racing interests, wanted passed or killed.

Senate Republican leader Ken Maddy of Fresno and Democratic Assembly Speaker Willie Brown of San Francisco gave the eulogies.

Recalling Garibaldi’s wit and wisdom, Maddy said the lobbyist’s advice to freshmen legislators was simple: “If you don’t open your mouth, they can’t prove you’re stupid.”


Known as “the Judge,” because he used to be one, the 87-year-old Garibaldi died of a massive stroke Friday, the final day of the 1993 legislative session.

Before the passage of Proposition 9 in 1974, which limited the amount of alcoholic beverages and high-priced meals that lobbyists could buy for legislators, Garibaldi ranked No. 1 in entertaining them.

All a state legislator had to do in those days was to sign Garibaldi’s name to a bar tab--even if “the Judge” wasn’t there--and Garibaldi would pay it, no questions asked.

In recent years, Garibaldi slowed down significantly because of bad legs and turned to using the telephone instead of walking the Capitol halls, but the legend continued. He worked on bills right up to his death.

As for legislative campaign contributions, Garibaldi was not a big spender compared to his contemporaries. He gave relatively small amounts--sometimes even to people who had voted against his bills. Asked by a newsman why he did that, he replied: “Because I may need them later on for another bill.”

During his heyday, Garibaldi was very close to the late Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Burns (D-Fresno), which gave him considerable power over bills that were pending in the upper house.

He once observed that there were only 40 members of the Senate, compared to 80 in the Assembly. “I figure that makes my odds considerably better over there,” he said.

A former assemblyman and Superior Court judge in Merced County, Garibaldi played baseball for Stanford University, graduated from Boalt Hall School of Law at the UC Berkeley, and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.


He is survived by his wife, Toni, and three daughters.