State Sen. Bob Wieckowski and Assemblymember
Rob Bonta both attended a special interests-paid 
junket in Hawaii.

STATE LEGISLATURE | When visiting the Hawaiian Islands they say you’re always among family. It’s no different when the annual Hawaii junket, frequently derided by government ethics advocates, welcomes a mixture of California state legislators and powerful corporate interests to paradise.

The special interests-paid soiree mixing business and pleasure included 21 lawmakers, according to the Sacramento Bee, including two East Bay legislators.

For Assemblymember Rob Bonta and State Sen. Bob Wieckowski it’s not the first time they have hobnobbed with lobbyists at the somewhat secretive conference. This is despite significant criticism Sacramento lawmakers have faced over their participation in expensive out-of-state junkets like the Hawaiian trip.

Meanwhile, the article by the Sacramento Bee’s Alexei Kosoff is punctuated by a juicy, but poignant scene of Bonta finishing up a day of snorkeling intersected with the normally tongue-tied Wieckowski attempting to justify his business trip to Hawaii while resting on the beach following a bike ride.

Taking a rest stop on the beach during a bike ride Monday afternoon, Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said he came to Maui for a second year to play his own game of influence. 

Proudly noting that he was one of the most liberal members here, he said the conference gave him a heads-up on the issues that business interests are looking at next session and a chance to do some “bellyaching” in return to influential figures like Western States Petroleum Association President Cathy Reheis-Boyd, with whom he shared a glass of wine. 

“I see them when they’re going after my bills,” Wieckowski said. “But I don’t get to have those discussions with them where I say, ‘Well, did you think about this?’ ” 

A large group returning from a snorkeling excursion on a catamaran paraded past on the way to their cars, and Wieckowski stopped to get a rundown from Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, and lobbyist Greg Hurner. 

Then he hopped on his bike to finish up his ride before an evening golf outing with representatives from AT&T.

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