Reeling from a spate of political scandals, leaders in the California Senate have canceled the Pro Tem Cup, a major fundraiser scheduled for this Friday where lobbyists typically mingle with legislators at the Torrey Pines golf course near San Diego to raise money for the California Democratic Party.
Given the taint political fundraising has garnered with the arrest last week of Sen. Leland Yee — coming on the heels of Sen. Ron Calderon being indicted on corruption charges and a record-setting FPPC fine for Sacramento lobbyist Kevin Sloat for hosting lavish fundraisers — Democrats in the Senate were eager to separate themselves from the exchange of money.
"These are unprecedented times and they demand that we take a step back and take stock of how we all do the people's business and balance it against the demands of running for office," said a joint statement from Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and future leader Sen. Kevin de León.
Instead of attending the Pro Tem Cup, Senate Democrats "intend to spend this weekend in our districts having an open and public conversation with our constituents about the work ahead for this Legislature and for this State," the statement said.
The Senate took the unprecedented step last week of suspending three of its members, all Democrats, accused of felonies: Yee is accused of taking bribes from undercover FBI agents to put toward his now-aborted campaign for secretary of state and a failed run for San Francisco mayor in 2011, as well as conspiring to traffic weapons. Calderon is accused of taking bribes from an undercover agent and a hospital executive. Sen. Rod Wright was found guilty by a jury of lying about where he lived when he ran for the Senate in 2008.
"While the Legislature as a whole cannot be held responsible for the bad acts of three individual members, we do bear a high and profound responsibility to do all we can to repair the excruciating breach of public confidence they left behind," says the statement from Steinberg and de León.
Here is a video of the two senators talking to reporters Tuesday about their decision to cancel the event:
PHOTO: Senator Kevin de León, talks with Senate President Pro Temp Darrell Steinberg, during the first California Senate session Jan. 6, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua