Breaking Stories: Working for the Man

— Sempra Energy spent the third quarter of this year handing out the usual raft of free food, drink, and frivolity in Sacramento and elsewhere around the state to legislators and their staffers. The utility giant also hosted a delegation of legislators and their spouses on an August junket to Puerto Nuevo, Mexico, that required the group to get $23 "work visas" from the Mexican federal government, paid for by Sempra, of course.

Assemblywomen Anna Caballero, Nicole Parra, and Mary Salas and Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod were on the tour, which made a pit stop at the Villa Ortega restaurant, where the delegation ran up a $420 "food and beverage" tab. On September 17, Sempra paid $510.21 for a ticket, food, and beverage at the Staples Center in L.A. for Carrie Lopez, the state's director of Consumer Affairs. The same night, it laid out $340.14 for senate majority leader Gloria Romero, also at Staples. On other September nights, senators Ron Calderon and Lou Correa each got $164.75 worth of hospitality at Staples. A few days later, Ricardo Lara, district manager to Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, and three other Núñez staffers, along with three other legislative aides, went to Staples, thanks to Sempra, which reported the total cost to be $3127. ... Meanwhile, state senator Jim Battin enjoyed a $96 one-night stay in September and a $17.50 meal at the Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino, courtesy of the tribe. The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians were busy in August, providing assemblymembers Karen Bass, Jose Solorio, Ed Hernandez, and Lori Saldaña two tickets each, worth $200, to the Del Mar track. The tribe also hosted assemblymen Joel Anderson and Kevin de León along with Anderson staffer Chip Englander at its Grove Steakhouse in Alpine at a total cost of $76.

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