California Treasurer Lockyer Will Moonlight for Law Firm
Lockyer, a 72-year-old Democrat who’s paid $139,189, will split time in his final year in office between his state responsibilities and offering strategic advice and counsel to clients of Brown Rudnick LLP at its office in Irvine, south of Los Angeles, the firm said yesterday in a statement. Terms of his employment weren’t disclosed.
Lockyer has served as a state assemblyman, senator, attorney general and treasurer since 1973, having never realized his ambition of becoming governor. So-called constitutional officers such as Lockyer, who run for election statewide, aren’t prohibited from taking outside work. Lockyer is the only one in California who does, according to conflict-of-interest disclosures reviewed by Bloomberg News.
“Having a full-time active elected official being compensated to help a firm influence government decision-making looks and smells bad,” Todd Dipaola, chairman of California Common Cause, which advocates for “open, honest and accountable” government, said by e-mail. “Even if he does not work on California-specific issues at the firm, citizens would be reasonable in expecting his full professional attention to be focused on work for the public benefit.”
Joseph Ryan, chief executive officer of Brown Rudnick, and Tom Dresslar, Lockyer’s spokesman, said the two roles would remain separate and won’t compromise Lockyer’s work selling bonds, helping govern the two largest U.S. public-pension funds and managing state assets.
Lockyer was similarly “of counsel” to Furtado, Jaspovice & Simons LC, a firm based in Hayward, California, from 2009 to 2012, for which his annual pay was more than $10,000 and less than $100,000, according to a financial disclosure statement. Dresslar said Lockyer’s relationship with that firm ended at the beginning of this year.
Brown Rudnick and Lockyer “have an understanding that his work for the firm will not present any actual or perceived conflicts of interest,” Dresslar said by telephone. “It will not infringe on any of his duties as state treasurer.”
In New York, statewide officeholders can hold outside jobs with permission from the state Ethics Commission. New Jersey prohibits its state treasurer and other statewide officials from outside employment.
Brown Rudnick has hired other politicians, such as former Connecticut House Speaker Thomas Ritter, though none with the background of Lockyer, Ryan said in a telephone interview.
“Bill is a very high-profile, incredible guy who’s had quite a political career,” Ryan said. “He understands government policy-making. He will be a great counselor.”
For the next year, Lockyer primarily will advise clients on regulatory matters outside of California, as well as helping Brown Rudnick land and retain clients in the state, where it established its first office in April, Ryan said.
Lockyer will minimize his involvement in California issues to avoid conflicts of interest or “awkwardness” involving his job as treasurer, Ryan said. He said he expects Lockyer to go to full-time status from part-time after his term as treasurer expires in January 2015.
Lockyer’s dual roles raise “a legitimate area of concern, if stricter standards were imposed on state legislators,” said Dan Schnur, the director of the University of Southern California’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics and chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission in 2010 and 2011. “Although a statewide elected official does make a higher salary, there are very few restrictions on outside employment for legislators.”
In June, Lockyer said he’d retire from elected office rather than run for state controller, after being barred by term limits from seeking a third term in his current job. He also decided against challenging Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat who hasn’t formally announced whether he’ll seek re-election next year.
Lockyer still has $2.1 million in his campaign account for controller, according to secretary of state’s records.
Running for a second term as treasurer in 2010, Lockyer broadcast a commercial featuring footage of him berating both Democrats and Republicans for overspending. His campaign motto: “Straight Talk. No Bull#*+!.”
Lockyer will remain a player in California politics after he leaves office, said Bill Carrick, his campaign consultant in 2010 and in earlier statewide bids.
“One of his great assets is his fearlessness about politics,” Carrick said by telephone. “Bill’s an extremely bright guy and he has an incredible depth of experience in politics and public policy.”
Lockyer’s 5.4 million votes in his most recent election exceeded the total of any statewide politician in the U.S. that year, including Brown.
Two years later, Lockyer was mired in marital and political drama surrounding his wife, Nadia Lockyer, then a 41-year-old Alameda County supervisor whose campaign Bill Lockyer funded.
In February 2012, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Nadia Lockyer had been “violently attacked” in a Newark, California, motel room by an ex-boyfriend who had been arrested on suspicion of methamphetamine possession.
Nadia Lockyer resigned as a supervisor and later was arrested on suspicion of felony drug possession and of endangering the Lockyers’ then-9-year-old son, Diego, according to court records in Orange County. Nadia Lockyer pleaded not guilty in August 2012 to all charges, and the case remains pending, according to court filings.
While Bill Lockyer filed for divorce in July 2012, according to Alameda County court records, the Lockyers subsequently reconciled. Dresslar said they split their time between Hayward, in the Bay Area, and Long Beach, which is between Los Angeles and Irvine.
Lockyer presided over a record $20.5 billion in general-obligation debt sales in the year ending in July 2009, as fiscal strains at the state and national level caused California to rely on IOUs to pay its bills.
The state’s improving finances led to ratings upgrades from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings this year. California has issued about $66 billion in general obligation bonds during Lockyer’s tenure as treasurer, according to a spreadsheet from Dresslar.
Even during the worst of the fiscal crisis, Lockyer was emphatic that California wouldn’t default on any debt, said Reid Tomlin, who helps manage $4 billion in municipal debt for Wasmer, Schroeder & Co. in Naples, Florida.
“I liked him personally because he was honest, he was blunt and he understood capital markets,” Tomlin said of Lockyer. “He steered California through a very difficult period.”
To contact the reporter on this story: James Nash in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at email@example.com