Núñez’s Wife’s Ties to Hospital Industry Draw Fire
The wife of Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) has come under scrutiny for accepting a job that is partially funded by hospitals, a major stakeholder in the health care reform debate, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Maria Robles was hired as president of the not-for-profit Californians for Patient Care in January, one month after Núñez introduced AB 8, a bill seeking to overhaul California's health care system. The organization says its mission is tied to preserving and improving the health care system.
Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Association, said his group worked with others to create Californians for Patient Care in 2004. He added that a "substantial amount" of funding for the agency comes from CHA.
Dauner said he recommended Robles for the position after working with her on a 2006 ballot campaign to increase the state tobacco tax.
Doug Heller, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said CHA's contributions to the agency are more effective than campaign contributions because they can "provide personal financial benefits to a politician whose votes you depend on."
Robles maintains that she has never discussed health care reform with her husband.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) recently vetoed Núñez's health care reform bill, which would have been largely funded by employers, not hospitals.
However, Steve Maviglio, spokesperson for Núñez, said that hospital officials had other concerns with AB 8 (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 10/16).