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Lesson Learned on Wording of Fundraiser Invitation

Times Staff Writer

A lack of subtlety in soliciting campaign donations brought some unwelcome heat last week for Assemblyman Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello), the new chairman of the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee. And Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez felt some of it as well.

The problem was the wording of an invitation to a political fundraiser this Wednesday at the Firehouse Restaurant in Old Sacramento for Calderon’s 2006 reelection campaign. “Please Join Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Assemblyman Ron Calderon for a Banking and Finance Reception,” coaxed the invitation sent to 300 and offering those who paid $3,200 per couple “an evening of food, fun, friendship and premium wine.”

But some watchdogs saw the use of most of the committee’s name in the invitation as toeing across an ethical line.

“There is an unfortunate implication that the event is somehow connected to the committee and, if you don’t go, perhaps your business will be impaired,” said Tracy Westen, chief executive of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles.

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Nunez, a Democrat from Los Angeles, was bothered enough to direct Calderon to rewrite the flier to take out the offending language and the suggestion that Nunez planned to attend the event, which he had not.

“He used the exact name of the committee. It’s just not done,” said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Nunez.

Calderon later released a new invitation, minus the “banking and finance,” with the added kicker: “Any previous mention of a specific committee reference was erroneous.”

He acknowledged that the wording was a mistake, but blamed it on a fundraising consultant new to his campaign.

Delgadillo Fundraising, Travel Fuel Speculation

Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo hasn’t stopped raising money for his reelection campaign, even though he has taken in more than $1 million and his only opponent dropped out of the race weeks ago.

Delgadillo reported that his fundraising topped $1.18 million as of Dec. 31, including $37,100 he raised since his only potential opponent, Etan Z. Lorant, quit Dec. 7.

Delgadillo is spending money to put himself in touch with more than just Los Angeles voters.

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In the last three months of 2004, Delgadillo used his campaign fund for trips to Aspen, Colo.; San Francisco; New York City; Denver; Chicago; and Santa Fe, N.M., in many cases meeting with Democratic Party activists and leaders.

In New York City, he met with Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president. Delgadillo also attended the campaign kickoff for New York Atty. Gen. Elliot Spitzer’s campaign for governor.

Delgadillo went to New Mexico to help with Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign, but also took time to meet with Gov. Bill Richardson and Louis Caldera, who was secretary of the Army during the Clinton administration.

The tete-a-tetes with leading Democrats can’t help but fuel speculation that Delgadillo is planning to run for higher office, possibly state attorney general in 2006 or mayor in four years.

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But his campaign consultant, Larry Grisolano, said the travel allowed Delgadillo to explore what other cities are doing for public safety. “These things make him a better city attorney,” he said.

Goldberg Makes 3rd Bid to Ban Indian Mascots

Indian tribes may be gaining more clout in state politics but they still need more respect, according to a bill introduced last month by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) to ban “Redskins” as a school or athletic team name, or as a mascot or nickname.

Goldberg said there are at least five schools, including Tulare Union High School, with Redskins as the team name.

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This is Goldberg’s third try for her California Racial Mascots Act. A similar Goldberg bill died in the Assembly in 2002 after some lawmakers called it an example of excessive political correctness. The earlier bill also would have barred Chiefs, Indians and all tribal names from school marquees and uniforms.

Last year, a bill to ban Redskins from team names was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said it should be left to local control. Said Goldberg: “If we had local control of civil rights issues, we’d probably still have slavery in America.”

Matsui’s Widow Newest Spouse-Turned-Politico

Doris Matsui, the widow of former Rep. Robert T. Matsui (D-Sacramento), last week became the latest in a line of spouses-turned-candidates seeking to replace their husbands in office.

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Matsui, director of governmental relations for a Washington law firm, said she was urged to declare early, even while mourning the Jan. 1 death of her husband to a rare blood-related disorder.

Joining her on the ballot will be Dianne Harman, the wife of Assemblyman Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach), who must leave office in 2006 because of term limits and plans to run for Orange County supervisor.

California’s most famous spouse-turned-politico is Rep. Mary Bono, the widow of former Rep. Sonny Bono (R-Palm Springs), who died in a skiing accident in 1998.

Assembly Speaker Closes Coachella Valley Outpost

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Assembly Speaker Nunez closed the Assembly’s Coachella Valley outpost on Dec. 31, and moved to fire the unsuccessful Democratic Assembly candidate who was working there -- much to the glee of Republicans and taxpayer advocates.

Joey Acuna, defeated three times in his bid to represent the Coachella Valley in the Assembly, has been put on 30-day “transition” status. That means he will collect his $40,000-a-year salary until February, said Steve Maviglio, a Nunez spokesman.

Republicans accused former Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson (D-Culver City) of using tax dollars to boost Acuna’s profile when he set up Acuna in a Coachella office in March 2003. Wesson said at the time that Acuna would help local people sign up for the state’s Cal Grant and Healthy Families programs.

Past speakers have maintained offices in major cities, but not in Coachella. “When the lease expired, he decided to close the office,” Maviglio said.

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Acuna ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly in 1998, 2000 and 2002. Bonnie Garcia (R-Cathedral City) beat him in 2002 and won reelection last year.

Garcia welcomed the closure: “People are very well served by the Assembly members and senators who represent the Coachella and Imperial valleys.”

Points Taken

* California National Guard soldiers soon will be eating some prime steaks, thanks to the USC football team’s victory over the University of Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. In a wager over the outcome of the game, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry bet Schwarzenegger a side of beef against some California produce.

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* Gov. Schwarzenegger hopes to save $516,000 over the next three years by printing fewer copies of the budget and instead making it available on the Internet. Only a handful of the 1,700-page budgets were printed on paper last week for legislators who prefer the tactile experience of paging through the document.

* The Los Angeles City Council confirmed Mayor James K. Hahn’s appointment of Candace Younger to the city Cultural Heritage Commission last week. Younger is the granddaughter of Evelle J. Younger, the state attorney general from 1971 to 1979.

You Can Quote Me

“2005 sure seems like a bad time to be old, middle class or disabled or commuting or going to school.”

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-- Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland), assessing the impact of the governor’s proposed state budget.

Contributing this week were Times staff writers Jean Pasco and Nancy Vogel.


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