“Holding state office needs to be about one thing, and only one thing: public service. For too many people in Sacramento, the spirit of public service has been displaced by a selfish drive to game the system for personal advancement. Politicians should not be able to run around talking about public service while they privately work to translate their elected offices into personal gain,” said Nehring, a Republican who is challenging incumbent Gavin Newsom (D) this year.
Nehring cited the growth of California state government as generating incentives for increasing numbers of individuals and groups trying to buy influence to gain an unfair advantage. “The bigger the role government plays in people’s lives, the more jobs there are for lobbyists in Sacramento. Those lobbyists are there to sway and to influence, and unfortunately some of those they’re trying to influence are willing to sell their vote to the highest bidder,” Nehring added.
In addition to reining in the size of government, Nehring voiced his support for replacing the current $440 per entity gift limit with an outright gift ban with rational exceptions for family and friends, excluding lobbyists.
In addition, serious consideration should be given to workable limits on fundraising during the legislative session, and by the Governor and Lt. Governor during bill signing, plus disallowing the use of campaign funds for purposes such as legal defense, as indicted Sen. Leland Yee (D) is reportedly planning.
“There’s a degree of myopia in how we ensure ethics in California today. There are rules about fonts and font sizes in campaign literature, and wet versus faxed signatures on documents, while at the same time we have a legislator allegedly selling his office and making deals with an international arms dealer. Sacramento has lost sight of priorities,” he added. “The lack of accountability means it’s taking an outside entity, in this case the FBI, to be the sheriff. Why does it take the federal government to clean up this mess in Sacramento? Because on the state level the system has broken down.”
Nehring warned that longer term limits adopted under Prop. 28 in 2012 could worsen Sacramento’s problems by further adding to legislative careerism. “Now, once someone is elected to the Assembly or the Senate, they can be there for 12 straight years and probably not face real competition. 12 years isn’t a limit, it’s a career, and no one games the system on day 1.” he said.
Nehring called for restoring checks and balances in Sacramento by ending one party rule in state government.
“We need to restore some balance to Sacramento. People understand that prolonged domination of government by one party is inherently corrupting. Right now the Democrats hold every statewide office and they have overwhelming majorities in the legislature. They know it. And the lobbyists know it. With no checks and balances, no accountability, it’s inevitable that greed would overwhelm the judgment of increasing numbers of lawmakers, especially those in the majority,” he concluded.