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California lawmakers accepted ticket gifts from lobbyists

More than $810,000 (£619,390/€720,689) worth of free sport and concert tickets were found to be given to several California lawmakers by lobbyists, according to a state report obtained by the San Diego Union Tribune.

The report highlights how companies handed out tickets to legislators to potentially influence decisions on certain policies. Some senators accepted fully paid trips to Poland, Germany and the Netherlands for trade missions or panel discussions.

Many of the other state legislators accepted tickets, spa treatments, and dinners that were not for any work-related reasons.

Former Assemblyman Dante Acosta reportedly accepted a luxury box seat to see a Major League Baseball (MLB) game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. This came from the group Communities for California Cardrooms, which totalled $615.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon took a $460 pair of tickets to Game 5 of the World Series. The report also found that Rendon accepted an additional $1,800 in tickets to various sporting events provided by the president of the East Los Angeles Community Union.

Concert tickets were also handed out, with Assemblyman Steven Choi enjoying a Steven Tyler gig with tickets costing $400, with paid lodging and meals from the Pechanga Resort and Casino.

Assemblyman Evan Low accepted Katy Perry tickets worth $238 from AT&T, while others saw Disney On Ice, were treated to a weekend at a golf resort, and received spa treatments, food, and wine and champagne.

“The truth is the vast majority of gifts and trips are given because the gift givers want something in return,” Rey Lopez-Calderon, executive director of the government watchdog organisation California Common Cause, told the Tribune. “It’s not just a question of the gift giver wanting something in return, but that the public could infer that even if it’s not true. There is potential for the public’s faith in government to be undermined.”

The practice of handing out gifts to legislators in an attempt to sway their decisions is not illegal.

Image: Asilvero