Toni Atkins vacuums up $50K from apartment owners

Toni Atkins received a hefty contribution of $50,000 from the California Apartment Association PAC on April 26.

Toni Atkins received a hefty contribution of $50,000 from the California Apartment Association PAC on April 26.

Landlords’ April 26 giving spree

As post-pandemic controversy over eviction law still swirls in Sacramento, a political fund benefiting San Diego Democrat Tony Atkinsthe state Senate’s Pro Tem, received a hefty contribution of $50,000 from the California Apartment Association PAC on April 26.

The very same day, the same apartment owners group kicked in $8,100 to the Toni Atkins for Lt. Governor 2026 committee. The sizable dual cash infusions appear to be especially well-timed, given some pending legislation over which Atkins has considerable influence as the state Senate’s powerful leader.

Toni Atkins, collecting cash from rent collectors.

“Continuing to work its way through the state Senate this week is a [California Apartment Association ]-sponsored bill that would offer financial relief to landlords who’ve been deprived dollars from the COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program,” according to an April 27 news release by the landlords’ lobbying group the day after making its gifts to California Works: Senator Toni Atkins Ballot Measure Committee and the Atkins Lt. Governor campaign.

“Under California’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium, tenants who failed to pay their rent were protected from eviction if they claimed a pandemic-related financial hardship. Many landlords have since learned that their nonpaying tenants continued to work or otherwise earn an income during the pandemic and don’t qualify for rental assistance. In at least one case, a tenant received rental assistance from the government last year but still hasn’t paid the rent with it, according to the landlord.”

The release goes on to say that “the bill would provide state dollars to rental owners who’ve gone without rent and whose tenants either won’t cooperate in the [Emergency Rental Assistance Program] application process or don’t qualify for the assistance.” Per the group’s online post, “On Tuesday [April 26], SB 847 by Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 9-1 vote. It now heads to the Appropriations Committee — the last stop before the Senate floor.”

Assembly duo’s Sempra spending binge

California Assembly Republican Heather Flora and his Democratic colleague Jim Cooper apparently have at least one common passion, their devotion to the all-American game of baseball.

Heath Flora: taken out to the ballgame, or at least Spring Training.

Accordingly, San Diego-based Sempra Energy chipped in $520 apiece to pick up a “portion of hotel room” on March 25 for the pair to attend the Padres Spring Training Weekend, according to the giant utility’s May 3 lobbying disclosure filing. Flora and Cooper are not unfamiliar with power company lobbyists, per a January 2019 account by the New York Times.

“As wildfires ravaged the state, a dozen lawmakers were meeting with top power company officials at an annual retreat — on Maui,” says the story. “Those attending the gathering included the assembly members Tom Daly, Frank Bigelow, Bill Brough, Jim Cooper, Heath Flora, Jim Frazier, Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Freddie Rodriguez, Blanca Rubio and the majority leader Ian Calderon, as well as Senators Ben Hueso and Cathleen Galgiani, according to the Independent Voter Project, which organized the event. These lawmakers are members of the budget, appropriations, energy, public safety and insurance committees.”

ash to ash

While San Diego’s Ash Street high-rise debacle, the mother of all municipal scandals, continues to fester, smaller cases of waste, fraud, and abuse are flooding San Diego’s city hall, according to the city auditor’s latest quarterly fraud hotline report, released last month. “A substantial amount of equipment, tools, and materials were intentionally discarded during a relocation process,” says a January 5 case description, in which the culprits go unnamed.

“The department took the appropriate corrective action with respect to the identified employees. The dollar amount of the loss is unknown, but was estimated to be approximately $200,000.” Then there was an unspecified “allegation of waste related to grant funds.” The matter was resolved February 3, by auditors, with “accounting adjustments to ensure that only eligible expenses were included for grant-funded projects. Staff was reminded of the importance of grant compliance.”

A January 19 case of “abuse of policy by bringing a child to work” was resolved when “department management took the appropriate corrective action with respect to the identified employee.” In a March 3 instance, the report says, “an allegation of outside employment fraud by a City employee was investigated and determined to be substantiated. The subject employee is no longer employed by the City.”

There was also a March 2 illegal parking case. “An allegation of personal use of a City vehicle was investigated and determined to be substantiated. Although the vehicle was assigned to an employee on an on-call standby basis, the vehicle was parked in a red zone, which was not consistent with department policy. The department took the appropriate corrective action with respect to the identified employee.”

—Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)

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