Killing broadband upgrade bill is good business for California assembly leaders

2 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Printing money us treasury image

Money matters in Sacramento, and the more ambitious the politician, the more it matters. The two men primarily responsible for killing senate bill 1130, which would have raised California’s broadband speed standard – assemblymen Anthony Rendon (D – Los Angeles) and Ian Calderon (D – Los Angeles) – hold high office, assembly speaker and democratic floor leader respectively. It comes at a high price.

In his eight years in and running for the assembly, Rendon has been paid a total of $9 million by a wide range of special interests, according to the website and the California secretary of state’s office. Calderon has raked in $4.6 million. That includes contributions to side hustles like ballot measure and statewide office committees. Much of it comes from labor, particularly public sector unions, and other reliably democratic cash cows, but the telecommunications and electronics industry sector is also a ready source of cash.

Rendon has collected $415,000 from the sector. AT&T is at the top of list, putting $53,000 in the speaker’s pocket since 2012. Verizon and Charter Communications come next, both with about $28,000 in payments. He’s taken a total of $83,000 in payoff from the cable industry, including $17,000 from Comcast.

Although Calderon doesn’t match Rendon’s total, he does even better on a percentage basis with the telecommunications and electronics sector, taking $328,000 in payments – 7% of his revenue. AT&T is still at the top of the list, with $54,000 in payments to Calderon, more than they paid Rendon. The cable industry as a whole paid Calderon $53,000.

Republicans get some love too. But not as much. The republican’s assembly floor leader, Marie Waldron (R – San Diego), also entered the assembly in the class of 2012. She’s only managed to score $2.8 million from all sources, with $129,000 coming from the telecommunications and electronics sector. But AT&T still leads the pack, paying Waldron $36,000. The cable industry gave her $31,000.

Or at least that’s what been reported so far. 2020 is an election year. When the dust settles in November, expect to see more payoffs from AT&T, Comcast, Charter and other telecoms companies reported.

I’ve advocated for SB 1130, and for other useful changes to CASF. I am involved and proud of it. I am not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.