Senate leaders trade verbal jabs over access to meetings

Campaign Finance
Activists with the group 99Rise, who marched from Los Angeles to Sacramento, in the state Senate gallery Monday, where they showed their support for tougher campaign finance laws affecting corporations.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

A dispute over giving a floor pass to a liberal blogger/documentarian to cover the state Senate boiled over Thursday with the Democratic and Republican leaders taking verbal jabs at each other.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) noted that Republicans were opposing his permit for a blogger documenting the work of 99Rise, a group of protesters seeking tougher campaign finance laws.

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar said giving a permit to film on the Senate floor was a “blatant violation of the authority” provided to Steinberg.

The Senate leader responded by ordering the sergeant-at-arms to let the permit holder on the Senate floor. He said in the age of the Internet, bloggers, whether liberal or conservative, should be given access to cover and write about the Senate sessions.


“We should err on the side of freedom of the press,” Steinberg said.

The Senate later gave final legislative approval to a bill, supported by 99Rise, that, if the governor signs it, puts an advisory measure on the November ballot to seek federal action to overturn the Citizens United court decision that lifted campaign contribution limits on corporations.

Later,  99Rise said it was ending its “occupation” of the Capitol on Thursday, after 12 days during which nearly 50 members were arrested for demonstrating without a permit and refusing an order to disperse.