The Sacramento Bee is reporting that earlier this year, California Senate officials hired two part-time drivers to ferry drunk lawmakers home.
Senate records show two “special services assistants” were hired Feb. 2. They work in the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Office, where their duties include providing “ground transportation for Senate members.” The employees, a retired Assembly sergeant-at-arms and a retiree from the Department of General Services, are paid $2,532 per month.
That’s over 5,000 a month of taxpayer money wasted, just so senators won’t get more DUI’s. How do we know it’s a service used to take drunk lawmakers home? Easy, a guy who was offered the job told The Sacramento Bee all about it, and a legislative chief confirmed it!
One man who turned down the job told The Sacramento Bee that Senate officials approached him earlier this year about working from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. to drive senators home upon request.
He said he was told the shifts would come only when lawmakers were in Sacramento – generally Monday through Wednesday nights when the Legislature is in session, between January and early or mid-September. The purpose, he was told, would be to give rides “just if they were drinking too much. Just pick them up and take them home.” One legislative chief of staff confirmed that the service is intended to prevent drunken driving by legislators.
The new hires came after four lawmakers in the past five years have been accused of drunk driving, including three on the streets of the state capitol. As for how the Taxpayers Association feels about this… you can pretty much guess.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the rides are reflective of the Legislature’s “air of entitlement” and the “growing divide between legislators and ordinary citizens.”
If the choice is between providing a 24-hour ride service or lawmakers getting DUIs after drinking late at fundraisers, he added, then “the answer is not in providing them drivers. The answer is in showing some restraint.”
No sh*t! California needs that guy in charge of more stuff. He seems like he gets it.
Of course several senators and the office of Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León declined to discuss the details or rationale of the program, “because it’s a security issue.” Yeah, it’s a security issue because you’re going to have a mob of taxpayers banging down your door if you told them the truth.