Free meals on the Hawaiian island of Maui were on the post-election to-do lists of some California legislators, thanks to cell-phone giant AT&T. The firm’s lobbying report for the final quarter of 2014 reveals that Democratic senator Marty Block of Chula Vista chowed down at Gannon’s Restaurant in Wailea on November 18, as did Republican colleagues Anthony Cannella and Tom Berryhill. Democratic assemblymen Reginald Jones-Sawyer and Jose Medina did the same. The check for each was $61, except for Berryhill, whose dinner cost only $30.80. The restaurant’s website says it “is the perfect spot in Wailea for those looking for something unique and off-the-beaten-tourist-path.” Partaking of AT&T’s Hawaiian hospitality the day before were Democratic senator Ben Hueso and two of his Democratic Assembly fellows, Roger Hernandez and Manuel Perez. Hueso, who was busted for drunk driving during the summer, and Hernandez each got a repast worth $63 on November 17 at the Mala Wailea restaurant. Perez’s tab was $126.
The politicos’ dining coincided with the traditional post-session legislative romp hosted each year by San Diego ex–state senator Steve Peace and his non-profit Independent Voter Project. Long the target of would-be legislative reformers who bemoan the elbow-rubbing that the politicians do with high-dollar lobbyists, this year’s blowout was staged at the posh Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel. Special-interest donors who regularly finance the activities of Peace’s group picked up the $350-per-night room expense for each attendee, as well as “some other expenses,” the L.A. Times reported.
Past supporters have included the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (the state’s prison-guard union and a longtime Peace ally), as well as Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and oil giant Chevron. Legislators’ campaign funds are often tapped for airfare to and from Hawaii. Meanwhile, back in San Diego, on October 16 GOP assemblywoman Marie Waldron and an unidentified guest chowed down at the Barona casino’s “Private Gaming Area” at a cost to the tribe of $247.50. GOP assemblymen Brian Maienschein and Frank Bigelow, as well as candidate Pat Bates, did the same. In all, 18 Republicans, including legislators, candidates, and staff members, were reported as dining courtesy of the tribe that evening.