A seventh state lawmaker that participated in a spring break trip to Cuba with “Sacramento’s best-connected lobbyist” has been identified. The office of Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, has confirmed that the freshman legislator spent the spring break holiday in Cuba.
“Please be informed that Assembly Member Shirley Weber traveled to Cuba on vacation at her own expense,” Lisa Martin, Weber’s chief of staff, wrote in an email after multiple requests for comment.
However, Weber’s office refused to acknowledge that the trip to Cuba was in conjunction with the eight-member legislative delegation organized by Darius Anderson, the founder and president of the powerhouse lobbying firm Platinum Advisors. Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, the only legislator to speak publicly about the Cuba trip, told the San Luis Obispo Tribune that the trip included a tour of a castle, afternoon salsa lessons and rooftop cocktails, among other activities.
In defense of his trip to a foreign country with a registered lobbyist, Achadjian said, “It is also important to note that the delegation included seven other members of the Legislature, nonprofit staff, as well as other business leaders.”
In the past eighteen months, Weber’s campaign committees have collected $11,900 from Anderson’s past or current clients, including the AT&T, DirectTV, Phillips 66, and the United Food and Commercial Workers. In 2010, Anderson and his firm agreed to pay out half a million dollars to settle pay-to-play allegations, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As of September 12, seven of the eight legislative members on the trip to Cuba have been identified. Other attendees include: Achadjian, Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, D-San Diego; Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles; Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; State Senator Ron Calderon, D-Montebello; and State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Livingston.
For the complete story, check out CalWatchdog.com.