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    Two Visions of America by Don Jans

    A plethora of private meetings

    Emily HoevenEMILY HOEVEN

    The Assembly Legislative Ethics Committee — a bipartisan panel of three Democrats and three Republicans — is scheduled to meet privately to consider a complaint brought against a legislator or other public officer or employee, according to the legal code cited in the meeting notice.

    It is the first time the committee has met since June 27, 2019, said Katie Talbot, a spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

    In order for the committee to hold a hearing, it must first find that the “verified complaint does allege facts … sufficient to constitute a violation of any standard of conduct” and then conduct a preliminary investigation that determines “reasonable cause exists for believing the allegations of the complaint,” according to the Standing Rules of the Assembly.

    • Veteran Sacramento lobbyist Chris Micheli told me: “It’s unique because the Legislative Ethics Committee rarely meets. In fact, they haven’t met since 2019. And this is the first time that they are meeting during the current two-year session as the session wraps up in barely three weeks. And the other unique aspect of it is that they are considering a complaint against a public official. We don’t know who that public official or employee is, and that’s why they’re meeting in closed session.”
    • Adam Silver, the committee’s chief counsel, wrote in an email: “Information and records related to complaints received by the Ethics Committee are deemed confidential under the Standing Rules of the Assembly.”
    • However, some information will eventually become public, according to the Standing Rules: If the committee dismisses the complaint, that’s a public record — and if the committee finds that the respondent violated any standard of conduct, it will submit a report to the Assembly along with a resolution including recommendations for disciplinary action.

    The office of Democratic Assemblymember Akilah Weber of San Diego, who is co-chairperson of the committee, did not respond to a request for comment. Republican Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo, the other co-chairperson, declined to comment.

    Also today, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee is set to embark on the first of two days of closed meetings to discuss candidates for California’s next state auditor, according to online meeting notices.

    Once the committee selects the three final candidates — a process staffers said may or may not happen this week — it will send those names to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will then appoint the next leader of the independent agency tasked with evaluating the performance of his own administration.

    California has been without a permanent state auditor since the beginning of the year following the retirement of Elaine Howle, who stepped down after leading the office for 21 years. The office has continued to churn out blistering reports under Acting State Auditor Michael Tilden, who recently released an audit slamming the state water board for failing to urgently provide assistance to systems serving unsafe drinking water to nearly 1 million Californians.

    The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 10,024,326 confirmed cases (+0.4% from previous day) and 93,056 deaths (+0.2% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

    California has administered 78,998,017 vaccine doses, and 71.8% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.


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