Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, whose reelection fate has been hanging in the balance, celebrated a bit prematurely with fellow Democrats at a crowded bash hosted September 16 by the Barona Indian gambling tribe. With the $112.17 tab for each being picked up by Barona, he was joined by Assembly members Luis Alejo, Jimmy Gomez, Rudy Salas, Jr., Lorena Gonzalez, Roger Hernández, Cristina Garcia, and Sharon Quirk-Silva. Democratic state senators Lou Correa and Ben Hueso were also there, as was Gomez aide Stephanie Romero.
Just a month before, on August 21, Hueso had been arrested for drunk driving after posing on a capitol balcony while hoisting a glass with Alejo and Hernández, along with senator Ricardo Lara and assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez. Gonzalez took the photo and posted it on Twitter, saying, “Yes.... Loving my Latino Caucus boys...”
In addition to the dinner party, the tribe also provided free limo service from Lindbergh Field for Hernandez and Alejo, valued at a total of $412.50, and free overnight lodging for Perez, Hernandez, Garcia, and Quirk-Silva, valued at $96.12 each. Finally, Correa got a “farewell gift” of “Native American Pottery” worth $119. Perez received the same, valued at $90.
A few Republicans partook of the casino’s hospitality this fall, with senator Joel Anderson picking up a $27.15 meal at the Brigantine in La Mesa on September 24 thanks to the tribe. Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, who was elected to the state Board of Equalization this month, got a meal at the casino worth $38.25 on September 15, as did her aide Sherry Hodges.