Legislators Steer Clear of Super Bowl

by Matt Fleming | February 12, 2016 2:12 am

superbowl 50Though just over 100 miles from the Capitol, state legislators showed no love for Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, at least not in person, likely an indictment of exorbitant ticket prices and an acknowledgement of ethics rules barring tickets that expensive from being given as gifts.

Around 70 state legislators’ offices, plus spokespeople for the governor and lieutenant governor, responded to email requests from CalWatchdog about whether or not their bosses attended the game.

While around 50 offices didn’t respond, there was a clear consensus among those who did. With the exception of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, no other lawmakers attended (of those who responded).

Cost Prohibitive

Certainly, many legislators either had no interest in going or were committed elsewhere. But the cost of tickets was likely a factor too. USA Today[1] reported that the average resale ticket price was $4,879, while face value ranged from $500 to $3,000 — from nose bleeds to club seats.

A campaign spokesperson confirmed Newsom — who, between him and his wife, is worth at least $8 million according to 2015 disclosures[2] — paid out-of-pocket for his ticket. But the spokesperson could not say how many tickets were purchased, who Newsom was with and how much the ticket(s) cost.

Watch Those Gifts

To have received tickets as gifts would have been problematic for legislators. According to the Fair Political Practices Commission, the maximum value of a gift from a lobbyist is $10 per month, and the maximum value of a gift in other circumstances is $460 from a single source[3] in a calendar year.

The Capitol still smarts from the Kevin Sloat scandal[4] in 2014, where Sloat, a lobbyist, was fined $133,500 by the FPPC for improperly disclosing — or flat out not disclosing — contributions, which included hundreds of dollars worth of tickets to sporting events. It was so widespread that 37 lawmakers received warning letters from the FPPC.

Enjoying The Game On T.V.

Many offices responded that bosses were back in their district last weekend, attending unrelated events or watching the game at private gatherings.

Asms. Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, had an emoji-laden debate on Twitter on whether the actual game was better than the halftime show:

@LorenaSGonzalez[5] Haha, you're only saying that because we sacked ur guy 7 times ? (I'll admit halftime was pretty good)

— Melissa Melendez (@asmMelendez) February 8, 2016[6]

The two also squared off on whether during the game was the appropriate time to discuss cheerleader pay. Gonzalez said yes, but Melendez argued the game was more important:

I wonder if these cheerleaders are being paid in accordance with (new) California law? #SB50[7] #employees[8]

— Lorena Gonzalez (@LorenaSGonzalez) February 7, 2016[9]

How can I get my friend & former cheerleader 2 concentrate on what's most important right now, rooting 4 Broncos MM https://t.co/rVyRxbwLxR[10]

— Melissa Melendez (@asmMelendez) February 7, 2016[11]

According to a spokesperson for the Denver Broncos, their cheerleaders did get paid, although the spokesperson declined to say how much or if it complied with the minimum wage law. A representative from the Carolina Panthers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  1. USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2016/02/04/super-bowl-50-tickets-secondary-market-stubhub/79820832/
  2. 2015 disclosures: http://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/documents/form700/2014/Constitutionals/R_Newsom_Gavin.pdf
  3. $460 from a single source: http://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/NS-Documents/TAD/Public%20Officials%20and%20Employees/
  4. Kevin Sloat scandal: http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/lobbying-influence/article3285594.html#!
  5. @LorenaSGonzalez: https://twitter.com/LorenaSGonzalez
  6. February 8, 2016: https://twitter.com/asmMelendez/status/696532466778017792
  7. #SB50: https://twitter.com/hashtag/SB50?src=hash
  8. #employees: https://twitter.com/hashtag/employees?src=hash
  9. February 7, 2016: https://twitter.com/LorenaSGonzalez/status/696478797764255744
  10. https://t.co/rVyRxbwLxR: https://t.co/rVyRxbwLxR
  11. February 7, 2016: https://twitter.com/asmMelendez/status/696483357031399424

Source URL: https://calwatchdog.com/2016/02/12/legislators-steer-clear-super-bowl/