|State Sen. Bob Wieckowski and Asm Rob Bonta|
ASSEMBLY | The East Bay’s legislative odd couple–Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta and Fremont State Sen. Bob Wieckowski–have traveled the world together in recent years. The duo has hobnobbed twice together on the beaches of Maui for junkets paid for by special interests. And just last year the pair visited Singapore on the dime of another lobbying group.
Now, Bonta and Wieckowski’s adventures will take them to Australia for answers to California’s fight against long-term drought.
The lawmaker’s trip is being footed by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, which also paid for the fact-finding trip to Singapore last year, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Other legislators are making the trip to study Australia’s response to its 15-year drought, including South Bay Assemblymember Evan Low.
The prevalence of these trips, technically “working vacations,” have often worried good government advocates for their potential to sway lawmakers with all-expense paid trips, often to exotic locales. The trips are not cheap, either. The tab from last year’s Maui junket, according to each traveler’s financial interests report, topped $3,000. (See tweet below)
Damage from infamous #Caleg Maui Junket paid by special interests groups: @RobBonta $3082; @TonyThurmond $2040; @BobWieckowskiCA $3267
— Steven Tavares (@eastbaycitizen) March 10, 2016
Bonta and Wieckowski are not the only local officials to rack up frequent flier miles. Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk has attended the infamous Maui junket, even posting a photo of his snorkeling adventure.
Last year, Richmond Assemblymember Tony Thurmond attended the Maui soiree and a few years ago, then-Assemblymember Nancy Skinner attended a junket in Cuba, which included salsa dancing lessons.