BY THE SACRAMENTO BEE EDITORIAL BOARD
FEBRUARY 24, 2021
It’s not always clear what benefit Californians derive from one political party having total control over the state, but it sure seems to be paying off for well-connected Democrats. Recent stories revealing questionable monetary contributions and lucrative no-bid contracts suggest there’s truth to the adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
PADILLA’S ‘SHADY DEAL’
It’s doubtful any legislator will rush forward to author such a bill. But the Legislature is making an extraordinary effort to pass legislation to funnel millions of dollars in taxpayer money to pay for an illegal no-bid government contract that former Secretary of State Alex Padilla awarded to a politically-connected firm.
Padilla’s office handed SKD Knickerbocker, a Democratic public affairs firm that billed itself as part of “Team Biden,” a $35 million no-bid contract to conduct voter outreach last year. The problem: Padilla wasn’t legally authorized to do this. Under state law, the money was supposed to go to voter outreach efforts in California’s counties. As a result, Controller Betty Yee refused to authorize the transfer of funds, leaving SKDK unpaid for the $34 million in work it claims to have done.
When Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Padilla to the U.S. Senate in January, we asked how he planned to clean up Padilla’s mess. The answer: Assembly Bill 85. The bill includes a provision that will retroactively change the law in order to pay SKDK the millions of dollars Padilla promised.
“Taxpayers should not have to pay for the shady deal that was executed by the previous Secretary of State,” said state Sens. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, and Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, in a statement.
The Republicans are right, but no one will listen in a state where Democrats have supermajorities in the Legislature and hold every statewide office. With enough votes and the stroke of Newsom’s pen, Democrats will pay off Padilla’s shameful $35 million contract — which will miraculously become legal.
In 2021, there are no balances in California politics. But there seem to be plenty of big checks for people with connections to powerful Democrats.