Friday, January 30, 2015

De Leon's Unsightly Lack of Insight on Oversight

Quid custodiet ipsos custodes?

Indeed, who will watch the watchers themselves in Sacramento?

Late last year, newly installed state senator Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles?) eliminated the State State government oversight office.

All while the FBI was investigating a piece of Kevin De Leon's legislation, a bill which did not pass out of committee in 2013, which the Senate President Pro Tem is keen on trying to pass again.

One paragraph in the column stands out:

De León was not named in the formal charges against either of his colleagues. But the FBI’s affidavit in the Calderon case was leaked in late 2013 and included de León’s name 56 times. It said he took $5,000 in campaign contributions from the undercover agent who was working to befriend Calderon. De León returned the money as soon as he learned it came from an FBI agent.


Here are some excerpts from the article on De Leon's upending the Oversight Committee last year:

California Senate leader Kevin de León has eliminated a legislative staff unit that focused on government oversight, a creation of his predecessor, former Sen. Darrell Steinberg.

Steinberg created the Senate’s Office of Oversight and Outcomes in 2008, staffing it with a team of former journalists who dug into the functions of numerous state agencies. Over the years, the office produced more than two dozen reports critical of many aspects of state government. The hubris of state legislators is staggering at times. Do they really think that they can get away with these maneuvers?
State Senate President Pro Tem De Leon
De Leon's spokesman Anthony Reyes gave no explanation for De Leon's suspicious moves: Reyes’ statement did not say why the office was not retained, but said the Senate would “continue to be served by the comprehensive and robust oversight functions provided by our budget and policy committees, as well as our Joint Legislative Audit Committee and Legislative Analyst’s Office.”

No reasons why, aside from asking the voters, the reading public to believe that the state senators will look over the legislation and make sure that they are playing by the rules. How did that work out last year? Four Democratic state senators arrested, incited, and/or convicted.  Today, the Sacramento reports the state senator Carol Liu's office was also raided by FBI officials. Still need no oversight?

Today, De Leon announced that the oversight responsibilities will rest with the policy committees:

Government oversight is the responsibility of every California senator and Senate staff member, not “the job of a small group of individuals in a room,” Senate leader Kevin de León said during a speech Thursday to the Sacramento Press Club, where he laid out broad policy priorities for the year.

Really? De Leon's clear lack of insight on oversight should not be overlooked during this legislative session. The Oversight Committee was made up of retired journalists and legislative analysts, watchers outside of Sacramento politics.

Quid custodiet? How about getting a custodian to clean out the unsightly pay-for-play corruption, starting with State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon?

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