Schwarzenegger Administration Video News Releases Violate State Law, Judge Rules
The Health and Human Services Agency and the Labor and Workforce Development Agency improperly used public funds for video news releases supporting proposals by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to modify state labor laws, including nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, a Superior Court judge ruled on Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reports (Osterman, Sacramento Bee, 12/2).
Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled that the administration violated the California Administrative Procedure Act by spending public money on the videos "without clear legislative authorization" (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 12/2). Court documents indicated that the video addressing nurse staffing rules cost $1,700 to produce and that a video addressing lunch breaks for state workers cost $1,815 to produce (Sacramento Bee, 12/2).
Connelly added that by not including criticism of Schwarzenegger's proposals in the videos, the administration implied that the state would support rule changes and did not "give good faith consideration to comments critical of the emergency or proposed regulations." State law prohibits the use of public funds for biased releases, especially when they support pending proposals to change state law or regulations, Connelly said.
According to the Times, Connelly's ruling "stopped short" of finding that the administration had violated state laws against propaganda (Los Angeles Times, 12/2). In addition, the ruling did not hold state officials liable in the case.
The ruling bars state agencies from producing similar videos in the future (Sacramento Bee, 12/2).
LWDA spokesperson Jehan Flagg said the state might appeal the case (Los Angeles Times, 12/2).
The California Nurses Association, United Healthcare Workers/West and the California Labor Federation filed the lawsuit (Sacramento Bee, 12/2).