Identities revealed of state lawmakers who attended Hawaii conference

A conference sponsored by the nonprofit Independent Voter Project was attended by 25 state lawmakers in Maui, Hawaii.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Twenty-five state lawmakers flew to Maui in November to attend a conference that was partly funded by a group of special interests, but it was not until Tuesday that all of their identities were made public when they were required to file annual gift reports.

The nonprofit Independent Voter Project, the sponsor of the conference, pays an average of $2,500 in expenses, including $350-a-night hotel cost -- for each legislator attending its conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea.


Maui conference: An article in the March 3 California section incorrectly included Assemblyman Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) among California legislators who attended a conference in Maui last November that was sponsored by the Independent Voter Project. Dahle did not attend the conference. —
The group gets its money from interests including Occidental Petroleum Corp., the Western State Petroleum Assn., Eli Lilly & Co., the Altria tobacco firm, the California Cable and Telecommunications Assn., the state prison guards union and the California Distributors Assn., which represents distributors of tobacco and other products.


The conference and travel gifts were denounced in November as an “unwelcome tradition” by Sarah Swanbeck, a legislative affairs representative of California Common Cause.

Lawmakers’ gift reports and the nonprofit’s records made public Tuesday disclosed who attended the conference.

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar and Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen of Modesto both attended. Huff reported the group paid $3,131 in hotel, meal and travel expenses, while Olsen disclosed receiving $2,914 in travel gifts from IVP.

State senators who attended include Democrats Marty Block of San Diego, Ben Hueso of San Diego and Bob Wieckowski of Fremont, and Republicans Tom Berryhill of Modesto and Anthony Cannella of Ceres.

Assembly members who attended were Democrats Luis Alejo of Watsonville, Rob Bonta of Alameda, Cheryl Brown of Rialto, Nora Campos of San Jose, Tom Daly of Anaheim, Adam Gray of Merced, Roger Hernandez of West Covina, Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles, Jose Medina of Riverside, Henry Perea of Fresno, John Perez of Los Angeles and Manuel Perez of Coachella.

Republican Assembly members attending were Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita, Frank Bigelow of O’Neal, Connie Conway of Tulare, Brian Dahle of Bieber, Brian Jones of Santee and Don Wagner of Irvine.