Skinner spent $2,400 in campaign funds for
her summer trip to Cuba last June.  

ASSEMBLY//CAMPAIGN FINANCE | Mix a bit of white rum with Coke, add a splash of lime and the cocktail may jettison you to the island of Cuba. The sweetened concoction is not dissimilar to the interaction of Sacramento politics and shadowy lobbyists.

Incorporate powerful special interests with a group of state legislators along with copious amounts of campaign money and, if you’re like East Bay Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, you touchdowned in Cuba last June for days and nights of salsa dancing, sightseeing and drinking the aforementioned Cuba Libre from 1950s era rooftops.

According to John Hrabe at Cal Watchdog, Skinner and seven others legislators—two yet to be indentified—traveled to Cuba last June as guest of the powerful lobbyist, Darius Anderson. Skinner spent $2,400 in travel expenses, according to her campaign finance reports released this month.

Big-name corporations and special interests linked to Anderson’s firm, writes Cal Watchdog, contributed nearly $13,000 to Skinner’s campaign since 2011, including AT&T, DirecTV, Entertainment Software Association, Pfizer, SKS Investments, LLC and the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

The junket also included embattled Southern California State Sen. Ron Calderon, who’s offices were raided last June by the FBI. According to Cal Watchdog, the U.S. State Department’s prohibition against travel to Cuba was circumvented by a non-profit organization backed by Anderson, which organized the trip.

Foreign jaunts are nothing new for East Bay legislators. In 2009, former Assemblymember Mary Hayashi’s lobbyist-sponsored trip to Spain was the sixth-highest expenditure in the entire Legislature that year. A year later, State Sen. Ellen Corbett and Skinner, also spent the summer break on the Iberian Peninsula for a 12-day trip to tour the country’s exploits in clean energy.