The Senate Republican caucus is strongly advocating the creation of a six member ethics panel to investigate misconduct by two Democratic Senators – Sen. Joe Crisco and Sen. Tom Gaffey.
Sen. Gaffey has had a career pockmarked by scandal, first getting caught in reimbursement funny business with his employer CRRA, then having an affair with CSUS lobbyist Jill Ferraiolo while shepherding $1 billion to CSUS, and most recently being fined $6k by the State Elections Enforcement Commission for double billing the state and his PAC for travel expenses.
Sen. Crisco was far less creative. He simply forged his name on sworn documents and acted as his own campaign committee treasurer for six months. SEEC fined him $4k for his actions.
After it became apparent that Sen. Don Williams had no interest in applying the same standard to Democrats that had applied to Republicans like Sen. Lou DeLuca, the Senate GOP caucus has been pushing to impanel a six-member investigative committee as was done in the DeLuca affair.
Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield and members of his GOP caucus had argued even before the two Democrats were fined that the Senate needed a permanent, standing committee to investigate ethics issues. But Democrats defeated two GOP ethics proposals along those lines late in the regular legislative session that ended June 3.
Democrats said no permanent committee is needed, adding that “ad hoc” panels work better as issues arise. And so on Tuesday – two days before the Senate plans to convene in a special session – the Republicans requested an “ad hoc” committee to investigate Gaffey and Crisco.
The end result of this process is near certain – the Democrats will do nothing (lots of practice) and the Republicans will get nothing (what else is new?). But the episode does highlight the pressing need for a more formal ethics process.