Maybe Calderon’s Ross connection isn’t a liability

… After all, it didn’t hurt Darrell Steinberg’s run for the state Senate presidency.

The L.A. Times is reporting that within hours of Steinberg’s unofficial selection as Senate President Pro Tempore in a closed session meeting of Senate Democrats, controversial lobbyist Richie Ross began sending out e-mails ostensibly bragging about his long term relationship with his “friend and client,” Steinberg. He also goes on to urge his lobbying contacts to “keep that relationship in mind” if they need any help in the future.

In past posts, we have mentioned how Chuck Calderon’s relationship with Ross may be a handicap in the Industry legislator’s quest to succeed Fabian Nunez as Assembly Speaker. Ross has been much maligned in the past as one of the only political consultants in Sacramento to also work as a registered lobbyist, with government watchdogs making the seemingly obvious argument that people who get paid by special interests to promote their agendas should not at the same time get paid by politicians to counsel them and run their campaigns.

Because of the controversy surrounding Ross — whose activities have prompted lobbying reform efforts in Sacramento — GOP strategist Allan Hoffenblum told the Tribune in an earlier story that the next speaker of the Assembly “should not have been a client of Richie Ross.” And both Calderon and Ross’ ties to Indian gaming have been criticized in the past.

Ross is registered to lobby for two Indian gaming tribes, though neither of them is the Morongo tribe, which would have been allowed to expand its casino under the Calderon-sponsored Assembly Bill 266. The bill died on the governor’s desk, but the tribe got its expansion wish granted anyways with the passage of Prop. 95 earlier this month.

Apparently, Steinberg’s ties to Ross did not affect his chances for Senate president. Perhaps the lobbyist/consultant should not be considered that much of a liability for Calderon either. Maybe he should even be looked at as an asset. 

After all, it’s impossible to say that Ross’s deep Sacramento connections (going back to his days as chief of staff for the indomitable Speaker Willie Brown) didn’t actually help Steinberg win the Senate presidency.    

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