After four years fighting the D.A.'s office, Sen. Rod Wright has finally been chased from office. Wright's offense — failing to live in his district — was minor compared to the allegations against his colleagues Leland Yee and Ron Calderon, deserving of only a footnote in the annals of Sacramento corruption. Nevertheless, it was serious enough to get him 90 days in jail.
Two assemblyman have announced plans to replace him: Isadore Hall of Compton and Steve Bradford of Gardena. No doubt, they'll want to project a squeaky clean image as they seek to turn the page on the Capitol's recent scandals.
This isn't going to help: In 2012, Hall spent $152 of campaign funds at a Las Vegas strip club.
Indeed, it seems Hall has been living the high life on his campaign funds for a while. His campaign finance reports include trips to Hong Kong, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands. He also made several jaunts to the Kentucky Derby. Tens of thousands of dollars from his campaign accounts have been spent on cigars, nightclubs and limousines.
The rules on this are pretty clear. Campaign funds must be spent on things that have a clear "political, legislative, or governmental" purpose.
A lot of Hall's expenditures manage to combine business and pleasure. In one instance, he listed a $2,300 expense at Churchill Downs as "legislative research." In another, he said he was attending the Derby as an "invited guest as chair of G.O." — the Government Organization Committee, whose purview includes horse-racing.
But at a certain point, you have to wonder how much legislative business is really going on. In 2012, Hall spent $152 on a credit card charge at the Crazy Horse III strip club in Las Vegas.
Asked for comment, Hall's spokesman Dave Jacobson said that Hall was not at the strip club.
"Assemblyman Isadore Hall absolutely did not authorize that expenditure and he was not present that evening," Jacobson said. "That expenditure was made by an employee who displayed poor judgment and is no longer involved in Assemblyman Hall’s organization."
OK, but it seems like it was pretty routine for Hall to pull out the campaign credit card at steakhouses, cigar lounges and nightclubs.
In his defense, Jacobson noted that Hall had grown up the youngest of six children and had started working when he was nine years old.
"Anyone who questions his integrity or judgment clearly doesn’t know him," he said.
Well at least Steve Bradford is a Boy Scout, right? Not quite.
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His financial disclosures show he has taken five trips — most of them to Europe — on the dime of the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy. The funders of CFEE include oil and energy companies.
Bradford has also demonstrated some anger management issues over the years. In 2011, he got into a screaming match with an ice cream vendor. He later claimed that the 73-year-old man had tried to kill him.
The vendor said that Bradford had been harassing him for years.
"I'm just trying to sell ice cream, why would I try to kill someone?" he told the Daily Breeze at the time.