Along with his new campaign staff, former Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado debuted a new campaign theme at Saturday’s Republican convention.
Abel Maldonado: Champion of the “Little Guy.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, “In remarks to a few dozen supporters, Maldonado cast himself as a fighter for ‘the little guy’ and mocked the Democratic governor for suggesting things were getting better in California.”
To prove his “little guy” street cred, Maldonado told GOP delegates about his conversation with Hilton Hotel workers. Speaking about state Democrats, he said, “They’re not better for the people that are making the beds here at the Hilton hotel. I know that for a fact, because I asked them this morning.”
I’m not sure what’s more galling. A career politician who thinks he understands the plight of workers after a casual conversation with a hotel maid, or an entire campaign that thinks it can re-brand Abel as a fighter for the “little guy.”
Maldonado has built his political career by betraying the “little guy” in favor of big business. In the private sector, his company has run over the “little guy.” Literally.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Early on a winter morning in 2007, a 25-year old Mexican farmhand was crushed beneath a tractor on Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado’s family farm, sparking an investigation that resulted in citations for four workplace safety violations, including failure to have a spotter direct the tractor driver and failure to have someone on the scene with first-aid certification.”
Of course, accidents can happen in any workplace. But, Maldonado’s company Agro-Jal “has accumulated dozens of violations from Cal/OSHA since 1990, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liens, and multiple citations for exposing workers to toxic pesticides and skirting clean water regulations,” according the Times review of government records.
In 2010, the Bay Citizen interviewed Jeannie A. Barrett, an attorney with the Santa Maria California Rural Legal Assistance office, who is, arguably, a legitimate spokesperson for the “little guy.” “A farm worker who votes for him on the expectation that he was a farm worker and would be on his side should look at Maldonado’s voting record and his company’s long record of labor violations,” said Barrett, who claimed that Maldonado’s farm had an inadequate number of toilets.
Since those violations have become public, Maldonado’s company has run into more problems with Cal/OSHA. CalCoastNews.com reported, ”On Nov. 4, 2011, inspectors lodged two complaints against Agro-Jal for not operating under mandated safe work practices and for failing to report employee injuries.” The company paid out $23,000 in fines.
In the Legislature, Maldonado repeatedly voted against the “little guy,” starting with his vote for what the Associated Press described as “the largest tax increase in California history.” The 2009 “compromise” budget, the Associated Press reported at the time, “raises the state sales tax by 1 cent on the dollar, increases the personal income tax rate and boosts the vehicle license fee.” How exactly did $12.8 billion in tax hikes help the “little guy”?
That’s not a rhetorical question. The New York Times answered it, describing the 2009 budget this way: “Take-home pay for Californians is about to shrink. Jeans, hammers, burgers and fries will cost more. Public school children will make do with old textbooks and find more classmates sitting next to them. Parents will receive fewer tax benefits, and state university students will pay 9 percent more in tuition.”
Maldonado is no more a fighter for “the little guy” than he is a defender of the anti-tax pledge.