Brown Shrinks Board Known as Safe Haven for Ex-Lawmakers Between Jobs

Thursday, July 12, 2012


A longtime government haven for ex-lawmakers between legislative gigs will have fewer slots for those seeking a soft landing.

Governor Jerry Brown wanted to eliminated the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and wrap its functions into a bureau under the Employment Development Department (EDD). He’ll settle for reducing its governing board from seven members to five, thus eliminating two positions he’s avoided filling since he took office.

Three of the five board members, including the chairman, will now be appointed by the governor; one is picked by the Senate Pro Tem and one is chosen by the Speaker of the Assembly.

The board is one of the better known—and higher paying—places in the executive branch for stashing former legislators. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed termed-out Republican state senators Roy Ashburn and Dennis Hollingsworth to the panel on his last day in office, but Brown blocked Hollingsworth. Former Assemblyman Alberto Torrico is also on the board and ex-Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia's seat expired two weeks ago.

Schwarzenegger wasn’t the first to appoint a former legislator to the board. As of May 2011, six of its seven appointees were politicians looking for work. Twelve other ex-legislators have served on the board since 1986, and many other appointees were personal friends or major fundraisers of the governors, Assembly speakers and Senate presidents pro tem who appointed them.

Capitol Weekly, noting the annual salary of $128,109, called the board “highly paid sinecures” and “an ex-legislator’s private membership club.”

An unsigned editorial in the Redding Record Searchlight once said, “Sacramento may have more blatant dens of cronyism and back-scratching, but they’re hard to imagine.”

Steve Maviglio, former Governor Gray Davis press secretary and himself an appointee, said, “It’s one of the choicest plums at the fruit stand.”

Despite its reputation, the board plays an important role in administering unemployment benefits in California. It oversees a quasi-judicial system that hears challenges to decisions about unemployment and disability benefits, as well as tax-liability assessments made by the EDD. When employees or employers disagree with department decisions, they can appeal to an administrative law judge and, if still unhappy, the board itself.  

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Changes Coming to Board that Has Been Haven for Ex-Lawmakers (by Jim Sanders, Sacramento Bee)

Who is CUIAB?

Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board: Just the Name Evokes Controversy (by Greg Lucas, Capitol Weekly)

Jerry Brown Proposes Nixing Controversial Appeals Board (by David Siders, Sacramento Bee)

Brown: Eliminate Unemployment Board for Budget (by Judy Linn, Associated Press)

It’s Time to End the Six-Figure Soft Landings (Redding Record Searchlight editorial)

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