Insured dough

As the June primary approaches, special-interest bucks are rolling into California legislative races. At the top of the corporate money heap here is ex–Democratic assemblyman Juan Vargas, running for a seat in the state senate after three years as an influence peddler for Safeco Insurance and its successor company Liberty Mutual. While in the assembly, Vargas was widely viewed as a close ally of the insurance business, which has been a source of recent contributions. As of March 17, he had raised $74,000 this year for his 40th District primary campaign against Assemblywoman Mary Salas, leaving him with $139,362.29 in the bank.

Donors included the Personal Insurance Federation of California PAC ($3900); California Casualty Indemnity Exchange ($3900); Farmers Services LLC ($3900); Mercury General Corporation ($2000); Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company ($1000); Anheuser-Busch ($3900); California Bankers Association ($3900); BNSF Railway Company ($1300); California Medical Association ($7800); California Dental PAC ($7800); and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ($2500). David Malcolm, the ex–port commissioner and mortgage broker who served time in state custody after copping a plea to conflict-of-interest charges, gave $3900, as did his wife Annie.

One local legislator who isn’t running this year is nevertheless stocking up on cash for the future. A committee named Friends of Chris Kehoe for Assembly 2012 raised $23,450 on behalf of Democrat Kehoe, an ex-assemblywoman who is termed out of her current state senate seat in two years. There were no individual donors, just a well-heeled gaggle of unions, Indian tribes, and corporations, including BNSF Railway ($1300); Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians ($1000); California Association of Highway Patrolmen PAC ($1300); Genentech, Inc. ($1000); McDonald’s California Operators PAC ($1300); and Time Warner Cable ($900).

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Juan Vargas has official offered this senate seat up for sale! Last time, Juan ditched his principles for cash and was handsomely rewarded with a six-figure job in insurance. Even though Vargas was asked, "if you lose this election, will you take a job with insurance?" He swore up and down the aisle that he just wasn't interested and would not take the job no matter what. HE LIED.

Now this time, he's pretty open about his willingness to sell his campaign out to the highest bidder in hopes of getting elected to the state senate so he can, safely, attack Rep. Filner's congressional seat in 2012. Paco wants to be in Congress and he'll sell us all out to try and do just that.

Wow, and I thought I was the only one in the know about Vargas.

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