Politics

Cleaning Up A $35 Million Sacramento Mess

First posted on California Political Review

Only in California. Sign a shady multimillion-dollar state contract with a politically connected consulting firm to do “voter outreach,” get sued over it and not only will your friends in Sacramento paper over it, but they will also appoint you to the United States Senate.

Or at least that is how it worked for Sen. Alex Padilla.

In this column last year, we told you about the attempt of then-Secretary of State Padilla to execute a $35 million contract with a political consulting firm, SKDKnickerbocker, whose website prominently stated that it was on “Team Biden.”

But the contract was fishy from the start. Not only did the secretary of state’s office not comply with the Public Contract Code, only a handful of partisan political consulting firms, rather than nonpartisan advertising agencies, were solicited to bid and, most importantly, the contract was not supported by any line item in the state budget.

Even the state controller’s office cried foul and rejected the contract. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association sued, media scrutiny followed, and Padilla and Gov. Gavin Newsom got egg on their faces just as Newsom was appointing Padilla to the U.S. Senate.

On a call with reporters in December to discuss Padilla’s promotion, the two were quick to downplay the contract.

“The Controller’s office, the Department of Finance — everyone is sharpening their pencils and working it out,” said Padilla.

“We’re working with legislative leadership and (the Department of) Finance and we’ll get that paid,” said Newsom.

Well, the fix is in and the governor and Democrats in the state Legislature intend to get SKDK paid even if it comes at the expense of the counties.

To read the entire column, please click here.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg