AP NEWS

California bill limits spending by local government groups

July 9, 2019
FILE - This May 24, 2019, file photo shows the building housing the California Contract Cities Association in Cerritos, Calif. Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, has introduced a bill that prohibits associations such as CCCA from using public money for anything other than lobbying and educational seminars. (AP Photo/Frank Baker, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California lawmaker wants to limit how local government associations can spend taxpayer money after two city councilors got into a brawl at a recent seminar put on by one of the groups.

Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s bill, introduced Tuesday, targets groups that lobby on behalf of and hold education events for local governments. It specifically references the California Contract Cities Association, but it would also apply to groups such as the League of California Cities and the Independent Cities Association.

All three collect dues from cities they represent. The bill would prohibit them from using that money for anything other than lobbying or expenses directly related to educational seminars. The groups would have to disclose how they spend their money.

The Associated Press reported in May that the contract cities association’s annual spring seminar featured a golf tournament, tickets for alcoholic beverages and bottles of wine for attendees. Two city councilors from Commerce got into a brawl at an after-hours event at the resort where the conference was held, sending one to the hospital. The association’s executive director said it did not occur at an association-sponsored event.

“Taxpayers expect their money to be used responsibly and there to be transparency, at the state level and in their local governments. This should extend to these local government lobbying organizations,” Garcia said in a statement. “These groups are extensions of governments and therefore the taxpayers themselves — who don’t expect governmental activities to result in drunken brawls.”

The bill will not be eligible for a public hearing until next year.

Spokespeople from all three local government groups did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Independent Cities Association is hosting its annual seminar and golf tournament beginning Thursday at a resort in Carlsbad.

The contract cities association advocates on behalf of cities that contract out for services such as police and fire, while the independent cities association represents cities that do not contract out those services.

The League of California Cities lobbies on behalf of cities at the state Capitol.

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