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When then-Secretary of State Alex Padilla awarded a $35 million contract for “voter outreach” to a political consulting firm run by one of now-President Joe Biden’s top advisers, State Controller Betty Yee refused to pay the invoices. The problem? There was no authorization in the state budget for that expenditure.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a lawsuit against Padilla to make sure no tax money was used to pay the unauthorized expense. Then in February, the Legislature decided to ride to Padilla’s defense and pass Assembly Bill 85, a trailer bill to the previous year’s budget that retroactively slipped money into the right place so the $35 million invoice could be paid.

Some lawmakers strongly objected. “Taxpayers should not have to pay for the shady deal that was executed by the previous secretary of state,” state Sens. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, and Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, said in a statement. “We call on our legislative colleagues to side with Californians and use the much-needed money as intended to help counties, not pad the pockets of political operatives at a partisan firm for partisan purposes.”

HJTA Legislative Director Scott Kaufman immediately sent a letter to Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, expressing strong opposition to AB 85.

HJTA will continue to fight to hold government accountable for waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. It’s not an easy battle, and we greatly appreciate your support in this effort to shine sunlight on the sleazy practices of Sacramento politicians who abuse their power to give sweetheart deals to cronies and pals.