Senate Ethics Training - Too Little Too Late

Following a scandal-ridden early 2014 that ultimately saw three members suspended in an unprecedented move, the California Senate will hold a "day of reflection" on ethics today.

Regular business has been cancelled so senators and office staff can attend training sessions led by Scott Raecker, CEO of the Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics education and consulting firm, starting at 9 a.m. at the State Library and Courts Building on the Capitol Mall.

Earlier this week, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he did not think the training would have prevented the kind of corruption alleged against senators Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco. "But that's only half the point," he added.

"It is always important to look inside and to be reflective and to ask, 'Well, what practices are there that we ought to be looking at? What should we change?'"

The training, which will also include a panel discussion with three attorneys expert in political and campaign issues, is intended to reinforce best practices so lawmakers do not put themselves in legally dubious territory.

"Money in politics is a reality," Steinberg said. "We need to talk about those kinds of situations and make sure the reaction is always to separate the question of campaign and money from public policy decision-making."

The Assembly will continue as normal with committee hearings, including an informational hearing on Internet poker at 1 p.m. in Room 4202 of the Capitol.


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