Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino is ramping up his ongoing feud with Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, calling for the lower house leader to shed more light on his proposed transparency task force.
Pérez announced in August that he planned to create a committee to review legislative open records practices in the wake of growing pressure to disclose more information about the Assembly's spending, including a lawsuit filed by The Bee and the Los Angeles Times. Pérez said at the time that the task force would issue a proposal for updating policies by early next year.
Both the Assembly and the Senate released office spending information in late August. But Portantino, who has sparred with the speaker over his own budget, says action by the task force has yet to occur -- at least in the public realm.
The La Cañada-Flintridge Democrat penned a letter requesting that the speaker disclose the names of all members appointed to the task force, give notice of the next meeting date and agree to allow public testimony "on the importance of complete transparency and financial disclosure" at future meetings.
"Thus far, there is no evidence that the Task Force has met or is planning on meeting. That is, unless the Task Force is meeting without publicly noticing the meetings. There are no recorded minutes, notes or agendas posted or available which detail any meetings. In addition, the names of the members appointed to this Task Force have not been publicly announced," he wrote in the letter.
Portantino, who contends that his office budget was slashed as punishment after he refused to vote for the state budget proposal, has accused leaders of "cooking the books" and releasing misleading spending information. He used the letter to take yet another swipe at Pérez on the issue.
"Your unwillingness to disclose accurate and comprehensive budget information is further eroding any good will the public has toward Sacramento," he wrote in the letter released today. "There is no doubt that the current effort to keep office budgets secret sends the message that there must be something to hide."
Pérez's office, which has maintained that extravagant spending has put Portantino over budget, was not immediately available to comment on the letter or the status of the task force.