Politics & Government

California lawmakers give no-bid jobs to ex-colleagues, friends

When Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg launched an effort this year to root out waste in state spending, he tapped a Sacramento attorney who is one of his best friends to lead it.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass turned to a termed-out assemblywoman and a politically connected former utility company executive, among others, to supplement her staff with outside expertise.

The Legislature's nine personal service contracts – touted as a way to cuts costs in tough times – went largely to those with personal relationships or political ties to lawmakers.

None of the nine contracts was competitively bid, so anyone not known to Capitol officials had no chance to be hired or to propose a lower fee. Most have vague terms that don't require specific hours to be worked.

The Bee obtained the contracts under a public-records request to examine the extent of behind-the-scenes hiring that does not show up on staff rosters.

Five of the nine pacts involve retired government workers who are getting both a pension and a paycheck from taxpayers, working as legislative consultants or aides.

The Legislature will pay about $458,000 this year under its nine personal service contracts, only a tiny fraction of its $262 million budget.

Bass says it makes fiscal sense to fill special needs with short-term contracts rather than by hiring more full-time employees.

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