Assembly Leader’s Spending Included Insurer Donations
Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) has come under scrutiny after financial disclosures revealed purchases made using thousands of dollars in donations from lobbyists, including health insurers, MediaNews/Oakland Tribune reports.
A report in the Los Angeles Times last week questioned expenditures that Núñez made on several business trips throughout the world.
Núñez said his travel is "not only justified but necessary for the decisions I need to make on a daily basis."
Beth Willon, a spokesperson for Núñez, said his expenditures "were properly disclosed and described as required by law."
However, critics criticize the purchases, in part, because they were made using large donations from lobbyists, including $290,000 from insurers, just as lawmakers are negotiating a plan to reform California's health care system.
Jamie Court, founder of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said, "The real issue is how does this type of lavish living on his contributors' credit cards affect the health care debate?" He added that Núñez is "clearly living high on his contributors' dime. Yet he claims he's for the people."
Núñez also is one of 30 legislators randomly selected to have their campaign finances audited by the Franchise Tax Board. The results are scheduled to be completed by February 2008 (Harmon, MediaNews/Oakland Tribune, 10/8).