With the the local (un)likes of Joel Anderson and Sam Abed gone, solid gone and Duncan Hunter on his way to prison for campaign finance fraud; the list of Republicans left in formerly ruby red Inland North County has shrunk like Seinfeld’s George Costanza’s manhood in a cold swimming pool.
Now, it’s longtime faux “moderate” Republican Marie Waldron’s time in the barrel.
A coalition of North County progressive groups including Indivisible CA50, Indivisible CA: StateStrong, and Indi Squared, recently held what one might term a political intervention. The groups, and all who have been dismayed by Waldron’s lack of accountability and regressive behavior, conducted a “Where’s Waldron” assembly for 11 a.m. to noon at her Escondido office, 350 W. 5th Ave.
“Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, now chair of the Republican caucus on the state assembly, does not represent our interests,” a group spokesperson said. “She refuses to meet with constituents who are not big developers or lobbyists. Let’s show her we are paying attention, and aim to unseat her come 2020.”
Waldron (R-75th Assembly District) has flown under the political radar for years due to the more publicly spectacular fraud and malfeasance of her more visible Republican colleagues.
She also has been a bit more clever than the others, finding subtle ways to curry favor. For example, her office issues regular “columns” that are thinly disguised political campaign materials, issued at taxpayer expense. These are picked up in the local news desert by fly-by-night shoppers like the Vista Press and Valley Center Roadrunner. The shoppers run the thinly disguised political broadsheets unedited, without fact checking and rebuttal, as if they are a public service, and to fill space .
Waldron’s bill, however, is coming due.
While local voters have been distracted by the clown acts of Issa, Anderson, Abed and Hunter, Waldron has been up to some dog and pony show tricks of her own.
The Los Angeles Times on March 5 identified Waldron as one of the state’s most notorious lawmakers showered with more than $810,000 in gifts last year, many from powerful interest groups lobbying the state who handed out concert and professional sports tickets, spa treatments, gourmet dinners and trips to a dozen countries, as shown by new state reports.
Waldron overnighted in San Francisco last June 21 thanks to a $1074.89 gift from the California Association of Health Plans. She also got $831 for an overnight stay in Torrey Pines during which she gave a speech to the California Charter Schools Association December 9, her report says. Assembly members Heath Flora (R-Ripon), Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) also reported accepting travel expenses over $800.
The annual economic disclosure reports shed light on how state legislators can augment their annual $110,459 salaries with gifts that allow them to travel the world and eat at expensive restaurants, often in the company of corporate executives seeking to influence their decisions in the Legislature, according to the Times.
Legislators reported accepting travel expenses for trips to China, Poland, South Korea, Japan, Chile, India, Spain, Germany, Israel, Mexico, El Salvador and the Netherlands. Closer to home, they also flew to New Orleans; Las Vegas; Aspen, Colo.; New York; and Maui. Many of the trips were billed as study or trade missions, while others involved speeches and panel discussions given by the lawmaker who reported the gift.
“The truth is the vast majority of gifts and trips are given because the gift givers want something in return,” said Rey Lopez-Calderon, executive director of California Common Cause, a government watchdog organization. “It’s not just a question of the gift giver wanting something in return, but that the public could infer that even if it’s not true. There is potential for the public’s faith in government to be undermined.”
Other lawmakers were treated to a weekend at the golf resort in Pebble Beach, Calif., on the dime of the Assn. of California Life and Health Insurance Companies, while the California Charter Schools Assn. paid expenses for 19 lawmakers it invited to attend a symposium in La Jolla.
Not Waldron’s first time in the legislative cookie jar
Indeed, Waldron has a documented history of questionable spending and grifting off California taxpayers. As documented by The Grapevine, and others, in November 2017, Waldron, who portrays herself as a fiscally responsible conservative, took the highest amount of mileage reimbursements in the California Legislature during the 2015-16 session, according to state records.
Nine of the Legislature’s 120 members — 80 in the House, 40 in the Senate, in all — who took over $20,000 in payouts represented almost half of the mileage reimbursements, according to a Sacramento Bee investigation.
Waldron was on top of the roost with $30,000, tied for that distinction with Matt Dababneh, a Los Angeles Democrat in the Assembly. Many lawmakers didn’t even take these reimbursements. Twenty-four didn’t take any reimbursement in the last session.
According to the Bee: “Waldron’s office said she drives to Sacramento from her San Diego-area district because it’s hard for her to get to an airport. Dababneh said he made a campaign promise not to use pool cars available to legislators at the Capitol, so he uses his personal vehicle for all official business, including events around his district, meetings in the Bay Area and sometimes driving to Sacramento instead of flying.”
Waldron and her family had moved to Valley Center from Escondido in 2017. The distance from Valley Center to San Diego International Airport is 40 miles, most of it freeway. The 75th District extends from Escondido through Fallbrook to Temecula, essentially straddling Interstate 15.
Privately, some political observers said another reason Waldron participated in the vehicle reimbursement scam had nothing to do with the money she made off it. They said Waldron had a well-known fear of flying.
By the way, Waldron officially earned $104,118 annually during that time, along with $183/day for each day in session.
Waldron has consistently opposed any gun control measures taken up by the state Assembly. Non-partisan, non-profit Vote Smart listed her votes on gun control legislation since 2013.
|Office:||State Assembly (CA) – District 75, Republican|
|On The Ballot:||Running, Republican for State Assembly – District 75|
California Key Votes
Doing the Okey-Dokey
To help students become more engaged in the political process, Cal State San Marcos decided to bring the politicians to them on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, exactly four weeks before the election. About 150 students, faculty, staff and community members turned out for CSUSM’s first candidate forum, held at the University Student Union ballroom.
Of the six candidates invited, four were in attendance: Ammar Campa-Najjar, running to represent the 50th Congressional district; Jeff Griffith and Brian Jones, both running for the 38th State Senate seat; and Alan Geraci, running in the 75th State Assembly district.
Guess who were the two no-shows. Time’s up. They were the notorious miscreant Mr. Hunter, and — ta-da — the afraid to flighty Ms. Waldron.
Then there’s the usual suspects of Republican politics. Waldron enthusiastically supported Donald Trump. She wants lower development and environmental impact fees. Opposes rent control. Earlier this year said fellow North County Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, who represents Poway, Rancho Bernardo and 4S Ranch in the 77th Assembly District was a “turncoat” for switching from the Republican to Democratic Party.
Going back farther, as an Escondido councilwoman in the mid-2000s, Waldron led the charge against immigrants. She was prime mover of an ordinance prohibiting landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. The San Diego Minutemen supported her in a failed bid to win an Assembly seat in 2006. She decried “nudist activities” in the city, filter-free computers at the library and fluoridation of the city’s water supply, according to The North County Times.
That’s not all, perhaps saving the latest, and most controversial, post for last. Waldron posted on Facebook an interesting family photo taken on Election Day. Check it out.