The OC Register reports that since 2011, California public officials have diverted more than $74.5 million of other people's money to their favorite causes and charities. The money is often donated by businesses and other entities, who hope to influence elected leaders.
Maybe they're just trying to donate to a good cause, a leader they believe in? We don't think so. People are inherently bad. This is about bribing politicians for power.
California has caps on gifts and campaign contributions, but there's no limit on "behested payments" to politicians' pet projects.
So, where does the money go? The OC Register breaks it down:
"No. 1: Gov. Jerry Brown was the most prolific at helping money change hands for charities, reporting behests of more than $22 million. Most of that money went to two charter schools he founded in Oakland – $13 million to the Oakland Military Institute College Prep Academy (“develops leaders of character by providing a rigorous seven-year college preparatory program to promote excellence in the four pillars of academics, leadership, citizenship, and athletics”) and $5.8 million to the Oakland School for the Arts (“Immersive arts experiences in a college preparatory setting, providing students unique opportunities for learning, innovation, expression and personal growth”).
No. 2: Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, was next, shepherding $12.7 million in government grants and tax credits to businesses. Nearly half – $6 million – went to Poway’s Transportation Power, Inc., to develop alternative fuel and vehicle technology. A $2 million tax credit went to San Diego ship builder General Dynamics NASSCO; a $1.85 million tax credit went to San Diego’s Pacific Steel Group; and $1 million grant went to the Chino nonprofit River Partners to restore riparian habitat. A 2015 law removed such government grants and credits as reportable behests, so Maienschein will presumably fall much farther down the list going forward.
No. 3: Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, tallied up $5.5 million in behests. Most of that went to Oakland’s Viridis Fuels – $3.4 million – as a grant from the California Energy Commission to develop alternative fuel and vehicle technology. Another $1 million went to Chino’s River Partners to restore riparian habitat; and $500,000 to Bring Me a Book in Mountain View, to support the Bay Area’s early literacy initiative for preschoolers through use of technology..."