Staff budgets start at $263,000 a year in the Assembly, but they can rise significantly higher. It’s vital that records of that spending be open, as it can be used by party leaders as a political weapon to reward the faithful or punish those who don’t toe the line. (Such an accusation by Democrat Anthony Portantino against Speaker John Perez is what started this snowball rolling.)
But Democrats in the Assembly dragged their feet, refused to open their books and flouted the state’s open-records law. Only two lawmakers posted budgets of their own volition. We’re disappointed that Tracy’s representative, Cathleen Galgiani, wasn’t one of them.
Now, however, lawmakers don’t have a choice. Their ledgers are open to sunshine, and the judge’s decision is a reminder to politicians at all levels of government that they are there to serve the public, not fatten allies on the public dime.
Thanks to the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee for pursuing the matter in court, and forcing our elected officials to do what good ethics demands.