SEMPRA LOBBYIST SEX SCANDAL SPARKS CALL FOR LOBBYING REFORMS

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By Miriam Raftery
September 13, 2009 (Sacramento) –Last week, Assemblyman Mike Duvall (R-Orange County) resigned after bragging on videotape about sexual romps with lobbyists— including a lobbyist representing SDG&E and its parent company, Sempra Energy, according to an Orange County newspaper. Now Common Cause and the Courage Campaign have launched an online petition drive calling for lobbying reform legislation.  In an e-mail sent to Californians, Courage Campaign asks provocatively, “Are you tired of getting screwed by hypocritical lawmakers?"

 

Duvall oversaw the utility industry as Vice Chair of the Assembly Utility Committee. But Courage Campaign asks cheekily, “Were Duvall and Sempra’s lobbyist screwing each other to screw California consumers?” The e-mail includes a photo of Duvall with a caption reading “Sex sells—who’s buying? Don’t let Duvall get away with it.”
 

Common Cause, a consumer advocacy group dedicated to reforming the political process, and Courage Campaign, a netroots (Internet-based) activist organization, have teamed up to call on the state Legislature to pass lobbying reform that would “require lobbyists to report every contact they have with a lawmaker.” California residents are urged to sign a petition calling for political reforms to get legislators “out of bed” with lobbyists.
 

A petition for Californians to sign is available on line at http://www.couragecampaign.org/GetOutOfBed. Courage Campaign has also called on Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigation allegations of votes sold for sexual favors.
 

Duvall made his confessions to a colleague in a committee hearing room, not realizing a microphone was live. He later claimed the affairs never happened, but resigned rather than face an ethics committee investigation. SDG&E has launched an internal investigation and in a prepared statement said its lobbyist, Heidi DeJong Barsuglia has denied the charges which, if true, could result in her disbarment.