Apparently California lawmakers are driving drunk often enough that the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Office have hired “special service assistants” whose job is to provide “ground transportation for Senate members.”
According to the Sacramento Bee, four lawmakers in the past five years have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, one of which was State Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego whom I wrote about last August.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León refused to discuss the detail of the special service assistant program. “We’re not going to provide comment, because it’s a security issue,” his spokesman, Anthony Reyes, said.
While President de León might not be talking, a man who turned down the designated driver position is. He told the Sacramento Bee that Senate officials approached him about being an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on-call driver to drive senators home “just if they were drinking too much…and to pick them up and take them home.”
Senate members have been given small plastic cards with the phone number for “Sacramento 24 hr transportation.” The card features a “California State Senate” banner across the top with a picture of the Capitol dome in the background. The card also includes a phone number for the Senate’s Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Debbie Manning with the message advising members to call her “in an emergency.”
Although the card says that the number is for emergency only, Senator Jeff Stone R-Temecula otherwise. “There is no reason to have anyone on staff 24 hours a day, which is really nothing more than a specialized transport for those that may over indulge,” said Stone.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the rides are reflective of the Legislature’s “air of entitlement” and the “growing divide between legislators and ordinary citizens.”
“They get all these perks,” he told the Sacramento Bee. “Perhaps at the end of session, when things run late, there could be some temporary allocation made so legislators can get to the airport. But on an ongoing basis, this makes no sense.”