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Retired labor union official lands consultant post in state Assembly

Willie L. Pelote Sr., a top labor union lobbyist, has quietly landed a plum consultant job in the state Assembly, not long after he announced his retirement from a powerful public employee union.

Pelote stepped down in May from his post as political and legislative director for the California chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, where he had worked since 1995.

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California Democrats honored Pelote and his retirement from AFSCME at their convention last May, and his labor colleagues hosted various receptions to mark the occasion, including one attended by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Weeks later, Pelote went back to work--this time at the Assembly as a deputy chief consultant to Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), chair of the powerful Appropriations committee.

According to records from the Assembly Rules Committee, Pelote was hired July 1 and is being paid a monthly salary of $12,500. That $150,000 annual salary puts him on the high end of staff compensation, exceeding what many chiefs of staff are paid.

John Scribner, chief of staff to Gomez, said Pelote was brought on for his "excellent organizing skills and understanding of the legislative process." His responsibilities include coordinating outreach and networking among interest groups on transportation, the subject of a current special legislative session.

"He's had more experience in issues throughout the state and understanding community dynamics than almost any other staffer in the building," Scribner said.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) approved Gomez's request to hire Pelote, according to Atkins' spokesman, John Casey.

"His salary is commensurate with his experience," Casey said.

Pelote did not respond to an email Tuesday seeking comment.

Pelote is no stranger to the Assembly; he worked as the chamber's sergeant-at-arms in the 1980s and served as an aide to former Speaker Willie Brown.

He then moved over to AFSCME, which has 179,000 members in California. The union maintains an influential presence in the Capitol and in Democratic campaigns; it contributed more than $2.2 million to candidates in 2014.

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.

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