Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris made a recent presentation to the United Way for Orange County’s homeless veterans, issuing an oversized check of $2.9 million, with her signature on the front of the check… as if she was giving her own money. This obvious campaign stunt by Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris should be reported to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
The one-time funding was included in the 2019-20 California State Budget, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
This is a line in the state budget. A Capitol friend was appalled and said, “I’m not sure how Cottie can claim any ownership over it since she’s one of many legislators. How gross is it that she’s exploiting veterans with a check with her signature, even if it’s a Behested payment?” Behested payments are donations made to a government agency or charity at the request of an elected official for a legislative, governmental or charitable purpose.
Cottie Petris-Norris is one of 120 legislators. Why weren’t the signatures of all 120 legislators, and Gov. Newsom’s on this giant check? It’s not her money, so what’s the signature of Cottie Petrie-Norris doing on this check if it is not a campaign stunt done within her district? It’s not as if she stepped outside of her district to present this state check to the Plumas County United Way.
“Under California law, lobbyists and wealthy political contributors can make large cash donations requested, or behested, by the office holders for their favorite charities,” OC Weekly explained in 2016. “It works the other way too. Elected officials can curry favor with large donors by creating government programs or events that promote causes, businesses or hobbies popular with wealthy contributors. There are no limits to the amount of an individual behested payment — with some as high as $100,000 — but the office-holder has 30 days after donations of $5,000 or more are received to publicly report who gave the money and the amount.”
Former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was fined $37,500 in 2012 for failing to report millions of dollars in “behested” donations he solicited for various nonprofit organizations, including his task force charged with developing a financing plan for a new basketball arena. The California Fair Political Practices Commission said it found 25 cases totaling more than $3.5 million, in which Johnson failed to report behest payments, Governing reported.
Will Swaim, President of the California Policy Center also noticed the hypocrisy of this presentation:
“CA lawmaker signs one of those oversized prop checks as if taxpayer money is her own. This sort of thing helped me abandon socialism: politicians take money from some in order to give that money to others – and then take credit for what they call ‘charity,'” he Tweeted.
CA lawmaker signs one of those oversized prop checks as if taxpayer money is her own. This sort of thing helped me abandon socialism: politicians take money from some in order to give that money to others – and then take credit for what they call "charity." pic.twitter.com/6fJD425jA9
— Will Swaim (@WillSwaim) July 22, 2019
“Addressing homelessness is one of my top priorities,” Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) said in a press statement. “I am thrilled to announce that, as part of the 2019-2020 state budget, I have secured $2.9 million to partner with the Orange County United Way and our collaborative partners to end veteran homelessness in Orange County. No man or woman who bravely served our nation should be without a roof over his or her head. This crisis is shameful and we need to ensure that the Veterans who have given so much have permanent homes and supportive services. Thanks to our community’s strong commitment and support, Orange County is poised to become the second county in California to end veteran homelessness.”
It is wonderful that the Legislature approved this important funding for Orange County Veterans; all California counties need this kind of help. But this obvious campaign stunt by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris should be reported to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
“No man or woman who bravely served our nation should be without a roof over his or her head. This crisis is shameful & we need to ensure that the veterans who have given so much have permanent homes & supportive services." #Veterans #DoingMore4OC #EndHomelessness #AD74 #Caleg pic.twitter.com/RG7AvuMT62
— Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (@AsmCottie) July 13, 2019