51 Jack Kavanagh
Jack Kavanagh doesn’t write news stories or cover events for television – although he used to do both. But he puts together a website called Rough & Tumble that has become a sort of daily clearinghouse for California political news. He did that in 1997 to educate his TV station’s staff about politics, and he still does it all himself – posts the links, markets and manages the ads, and deals with reporters and their stories. People in the Capitol, the electeds and the staffs, peruse it daily. Reporters whose political stories otherwise wouldn’t get noticed find a home find at Rough & Tumble. Political reporters, thirsting for traffic, want their stories to appear and be linked on Rough & Tumble, which has about 300,000 page views a month, many of them from D.C. readers.
52 Rusty Hicks
A rising young star in the labor movement, Texas native Rusty Hicks has been the executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor since November of 2014, when he was 35. He says he took inspiration for worker advocacy from his bookkeeper mother and from his grandfather, who was a supermarket clerk. As a Navy lieutenant, he served a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. Hicks is familiar with the ins and outs of the Capitol. He served in the Assembly offices of Ted Lieu and the late Mike Gordon, and was one of the leaders in the passage of Proposition 28, modifying legislative term limits. He brings considerable political muscle to bear. His Federation has 300 local unions that represent more than 800,000 workers in everything from transportation to entertainment to janitorial services. The union claims credit for helping elect progressives Mark Ridley-Thomas (2008) and Sheila Kuehl (2014) to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
53 Cynthia Bryant
Cynthia Bryant, the executive director of the California Republican Party, has her work cut out for her. The party always needs funds, and Bryant helps with that. She deals with the local GOP committees in counties and cities across the state. She is in charge of the party’s infrastructure and day-to-day operations. As one Republican familiar with the state GOP put it, “her job is to make sure the trains run on time.” Her GOP chops are strong: She headed the Office of Planning and Research for three years during the Schwarzenegger administration, temporarily ran the Department of Finance, handled policy for the Senate Republican Caucus and worked at Russo Marsh Rogers for 13 years as an account executive and vice president. She also was a senior vice president at the Charter Schools Association.
54 George Skelton
He probably doesn’t enjoy being reminded of it very much, but George Skelton has been covering California politics and policy for more than 50 years. When, in 1967, Ronald Reagan looked out across the faces in room 1190 in the Capitol where press conferences are held, there was George. When Jerry Brown scans his news conference audience in 2016, there is George. Intelligent, insightful, frequently irascible, but always fun to read, Skelton has been a Los Angeles Times newsie since 1974. Before then, he reported for United Press International, a scrappy wire service still close to his heart. With a daily audience of 653,868 readers, Skelton does not aim a popgun when he takes aim at something he regards as particularly egregious, whether from a Democrat or a Republican. A recent example: The argument that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” (“drivel; rubbish.”) In the Capitol and in the offices that surround it, Skelton is required reading.
55 David Quintana
Last year, when the ride-sharing company Uber came to Sacramento to parley over legislation, they hired David Quintana’s firm Gonzalez, Quintana and Hunter, to give the company a hand. He did – and he was one reason Uber wound up a winner. Quintana has been on this list before, frequently. He’s been active in online gaming negotiations – he built the California Tribal Business Alliance into a political force – and he distributes an exhaustive daily rundown of gaming news via email. His firm’s client list includes Facebook, the San Diego County Water Authority, a number of tribes, the L.A. Community College District, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and many others.
56 C. Duane Dauner
Duane Dauner and his California Hospital Association have a lot going on this year. They are taking a lead role in supporting Proposition 52, which requires that the money generated by certain fees levied on hospitals – and federal matching funds — go to hospital care for Medi-Cal patients, including the elderly and disabled. The idea is to block the money from being diverted to the General Fund, which has happened in the past. Dauner is something of a legend in Sacramento. He has been the president and CEO of the CHA, which represents nearly 400 California hospitals and health systems, for more than 30 years. He served in the Kansas Hospital Association in the 1960s, then headed the Missouri Hospital Association as president and CEO beginning in 1975. This guy really knows hospitals.
57 Paul Mitchell
Data cruncher Paul Mitchell is a wizard at extrapolating hidden election truths from raw numbers. He’s vice president of Political Data, Inc., which markets and analyzes data for campaigns — and the campaigns pay a lot for his services. He owns Redistricting Partners, which develops political mapping. He’s also the creator of CA120, a campaign analysis column that appears in Capitol Weekly. He and colleague Jonathan Brown break down numbers and then tell the story. During the last primary, CA120 conducted polling of hundreds of thousands of absentee voters and wound up with results that more closely tracked the final tally than other pollsters. He’s got a master’s degree from USC in – wait for it – urban planning and econometrics.
58 Mike Madrid
Mystery solved: Veteran GOP political consultant Mike Madrid was the driving force behind the Republican takeover of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The district is a big deal: Its 13-member board, long dominated by Democrats, writes air-quality rules affecting 17 million people in four counties. But the board isn’t directly elected by the people, it’s a combination of local elected officials. No room to give details here, but the upshot is that Reeps – or pro-business, nonpartisan candidates — wound up controlling the board. One observer said Madrid “demonstrated how conservatives and moderates can still play a key role in policy making at the local level in a state dominated by the far left.” When he’s not engineering coups, Madrid, a principal in Grassroots Lab and the California Leadership Institute, is a nationally recognized expert on Latino politics.
59 Barry Brokaw
Lobbyist Barry Brokaw of Sacramento Advocates paid his dues as a Capitol staffer: He worked nearly 20 years as a committee consultant and as a legislative chief of staff, including 18 years with Sen. Dan Boatwright, a colorful Concord Democrat. Sacramento Advocates is well established: His client lineup includes the powerful Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Microsoft, Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, Walmart, AT&T, Kraft Heinz Foods, Tesla Motors and Western Union, among others. Brokaw joined the firm as a partner in 1993. Brokaw’s son Brian Brokaw is a prominent political consultant – he managed Kamala Harris’ successful campaign for attorney general – and his youngest son Nick, is a lawyer who recently joined Sacramento Advocates. Lobbyists at the firm include Gareth Elliott, Cassie Gilason and Silvio Ferrari. (Full disclosure: Barry serves on the Board of Open California, which publishes Capitol Weekly.)
60 Steve Maviglio
Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio always seems to know what’s going on above or below the Capitol’s surface, whether it’s the latest round of intrigue and drawn knives or a full-blown, public political battle. Maviglio, who has worked outside government, inside government and sometimes both at the same time, has deep political roots. A New Jersey native, he served in the New Hampshire Legislature, which has 424 members, making it the fourth-largest English-speaking legislative body in the world! Since moving to California in 2000 he has handled numerous consulting and strategy chores, including a stint as emergency clean-up crew for Speaker John A. Perez, who had alienated the entire press corps by imposing severe restrictions (soon lifted) on Capitol floor access for reporters. This year, he’s working to defeat Proposition 53, the Cortopassi initiative.
61 Amy Brown
Amy Brown, a partner in DiMare, Brown, Hicks and Kessler, represents the California Retired County Employees Association, and she publishes The Public Retirement Journal, an influential online newsletter. She travels the state constantly, conducting seminars on retirement issues and educating retirees – and others – about their options. So while she’s Sacramento-based, Brown also has something of a statewide profile – an unusual characteristic for a capital lobbyist. She’s also handled compensation insurance issues – she served on the Commission on Health, Safety and Workers Compensation – and she helped draft the major industry changes that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law.
62 Kevin Sloat
Lobbyist Kevin Sloat of Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates is a top-tier advocate with blue-chip clients, who has deep ties to both the legislative and executive branches. He’s spent nearly three decades in and around the Capitol, with his toughest period two years ago when the FPPC imposed a fine of $133,500 on him for violating laws that regulate lobbyists. But that was in 2014 and Sloat today, as always, is an acknowledged and respected Sacramento power player. His firm’s client list includes everything from beer (Anheuser-Busch) to health care (Anthem Blue Cross) to energy (PG&E and affiliates) to communications (DirecTV and Dish) to entertainment (FanDuel and DraftKings).
63 Darius Anderson
Darius Anderson, the founder and CEO of Platinum Advisors, is a bit of everything. He’s a registered lobbyist. He’s a San Francisco-area developer. He’s a newspaper publisher, one of the triumvirate publishing the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa. He served as chair of national advisory council of the Institute for Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. He’s an avid collector of baseball and Jack London memorabilia. His Platinum Advisors is one of Sacramento’s top-billing lobbying firms – over $1.2 million for each of the last four quarters – with more than five dozen clients that include Tesla Motors, the city of San Diego, the Hearst Corp., Habitat for Humanity, UPS and the counties of Alameda and Ventura.
64 Scott Wetch
After a Capitol career that spanned 24 years, Scott Wetch went into lobbying and immediately made a name for himself. His firm, Carter Wetch Associates, has an array of labor clients, as well as corporate interests — Verizon, Lyft and the Los Angeles Turf Club, among others – and like a number of established firms, he represents other lobbyists. He is aggressive and effective. A newspaper profile once described him as “shrewd and intimidating,” and those who have worked with – and against – him largely concur. Wetch gained wide attention several years ago for winning what Capitol Weekly called “one of the oddest most passionate political fights” in which he spearheaded a bill over the opposition of the nurses to allow school employees to administer medication to students caught in epileptic seizures. His I Street offices are four blocks from the Capitol in a building he shares with the Building and Construction Trades Council.
65 Mike Belote
California Advocates is one of Sacramento’s oldest and most respected contract lobbying firms, and Mike Belote is its president. Belote’s 36-year lobbying career began with association lobbying jobs with CPAs, Realtors and title companies. He’s been a contract lobbyist since 1990 and his specialties include the judicial branch, real estate, and financial services, including judges, civil defense lawyers, employment law, and more. California Advocates’ client list reads like a Who’s Who of heavy hitters, including Apple, Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines and Copart, among dozens of others. Belote is known for philanthropic work relating to domestic violence and veteran’s services, and he sponsors a lecture series every year discussing a key issue of California policy. Belote also serves on the board of the nonprofit Open California, which publishes Capitol Weekly.
66 Dan Morain
Dan Morain is a journalist’s journalist: He is the editorial page editor and columnist at the Sacramento Bee, but he’s also a reporter. That means his opinion pieces are informed by fresh reporting, which makes his columns all the more valuable – especially since they are widely read in the Capitol by people who craft policy. Morain worked at the L.A. Times for 27 years, where he broke story after story at the Sacramento Bureau on political finance, then came to the Bee in 2010 after a brief stint at the Consumer Attorneys of California.
67 Jodi Hicks
Jodi Hicks, a familiar name on this list, is a founding partner of DiMare, Brown, Hicks, and Kessler, and she knows health care issues: She was a staff lobbyist for the 41,000-member California Medical Association. She and her firm represent several health or medical groups, including the California Academy of Family Physicians, the CMA, the American Heart Association and the Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, and other clients include Calpine, Safeway and the Northern California Water Association. One of her clients, the CAFP, co-sponsored the new mandatory vaccination law, and ultimately Hicks wound up getting targeted by anti-vaccination groups and actually got stalked. There certainly is a family feel to our list: She is married to Paul Mitchell (see No. 57) and is a partner with Amy Brown (see No. 61), and she’s also a new member of the Open California board.
68 Fiona Hutton
Fiona Hutton & Associates is a public relations firm that reaches across California from its Studio City headquarters. We came across her first in water issues: It seemed like all roads led to Hutton when it came to finding out about groundwater, delivery, consumption – you name it. But she’s more than water and her clients include the Los Angeles Dodgers. Her Sacramento-connected clients are the California Hospital Association, the State Water Contractors and Yes on Prop 71: California Stem Cell Research & Cures Initiative. The firm boasts a specialty dealing with “intricate and often controversial policy issues,” and we can believe it, because what’s more controversial than water during a drought? Hutton has 20 years of experience in public relations, and among Capitol habitués, it’s generally accepted that it’s better to have her for you than against you. A nugget: Years ago, one of Hutton’s senior account executives was Alma Hernandez (see No. 38). Full disclosure: Hutton is a member of the board of Open California, the nonprofit publisher of Capitol Weekly. (Ed’s Note: Corrects title in penultimate line to senior account executive. 8/10/2016)
69 Ed Manning
If your policy problem has to do with water, the environment, transportation or energy, you might want to chat with lobbyist Ed Manning, a partner at KP Public Affairs, which ranks No. 1 in billings. Manning is a lawyer and a former prosecutor in the L.A. County D.A.’s office, and he served as general counsel to Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy as his designated alternate on the State Lands Commission. Manning, who lobbies the bureaucracy as much as the Legislature, is a familiar figure to senior staffers at many state agencies, including Cal-EPA, the Resources Agency, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Air Resources Board, Fish and Wildlife and Water Resources.
70 Lynn Valbuena
When it comes to tribal issues, Lynn Valbuena is a major force in the Capitol. She is the chair of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and chair of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations – responsibilities that put her at the center of tribal concerns in state politics. There are myriad tribal issues in Sacramento that have nothing to do with gaming – education, heritage, resources — but over the past few years, the legalization of online gaming has been the focal point of tribal disagreements. This year, the eighth year in a row that online gaming bills have heard in the Legislature, is no different. People who follow the negotiations say the chances of a bill are favorable. But whatever happens, Lynn, who has been named to the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Gaming Hall of Fame, will be at the table.
71 Jonathan Ross
Lobbyist Jonathan Ross has been at KP Public Affairs for 20 years, and he’s one of the reasons that his firm ranks No. 1 in billings. Before he came to KP, Ross, was a partner at the San Francisco law firm of Landels, Ripley and Diamond, specializing in financial services law and regulation. He’s headed business interests’ efforts responding to lawmakers’ attempts to regulate financial privacy, credit card marketing and outsourcing. KP is the definition of a blue-chip firm and Ross leads KP’s efforts for such clients as Citigroup, General Electric, the California Mortgage Bankers Association, and Genworth Financial. He also is the firm’s principal adviser to the California Restaurant Association, and lead lobbyist for the Hertz Corporation and Google. And for those who like power couples: Ross’ wife is Karen Greene Ross, the state controller’s chief of staff. Now there’s a couple that knows how to balance a check book.
72 Annie Notthoff
The Natural Resources Defense Council is an internationally known environmental protection group with a long track record of political and legal victories, and the NRDC’s principal advocate in California is San Francisco-based Annie Notthoff, a 34-year veteran who heads the group’s public policy efforts. She was instrumental in creating the first network of marine reserves under presidents Clinton and Bush, she pushed successfully for a state ban on shark fins and for passage of California’s landmark law to curb greenhouse gases, AB32. The NRDC probably is closer to Brown’s administration than many other groups, but the relationship isn’t always smooth: The NRDC praised Jerry Brown’s “bold leadership” while at same time opposed his plan to dig tunnels through the Delta to bring northern water south.
73 Dan Walters
Dan Walters doesn’t have much patience with California politicians. With more than 50 years of experience writing about California politics and people (at age 22, he was the youngest daily newspaper editor in the nation) he has a super-sensitive BS antenna. And when he vents, it resonates — his Sacramento Bee column appears in 50-plus California newspapers, more than any other California columnist. Walters is one of the few people who can wax enthusiastically and at length on the arcane and wonkish workings of California public policy. He is crusty, knowledgeable, and, perhaps to the surprise of some, idealistic about what ought to be happening in California politics, but too often isn’t. He has never been known to be shy about telling readers, or listeners, what’s what on the California political scene. Walters does not confine himself to short bursts in his column; he is the co-author, with the late Jay Michaels, of “The Third House: Lobbyists, Money and Power in Sacramento.” He was also the founding editor of “The California Political Almanac.”
74 Christy Bouma
Christy Bouma is the top lobbyist for the California Professional Firefighters, an aggressive, well-financed labor group with 30,000 members, and her job keeps her hopping. There are always enemy bills lurking on the horizon – to cut pensions, cripple budgets, redefine hazardous chemicals, etc. – but very few get past Bouma’s shield. And the bills they do want usually – but not always – make the cut. Bouma, the president of Capitol Connection, was a mathematics and computer science teacher at the Hesperia Unified School District from 1989 to 1999 and an instructor at Victor Valley Community College from 1991 to 1998. She has supported CPF, the California School Employees Association governmental advocacy team, the State Building and Construction Trades Council, and the SEIU on special legislative projects.
With a client list that ranges from a former president (George W. Bush) and former Gov. Pete Wilson to local area city council members and supervisors, the firm of McNally Temple Associates seem to be everywhere at once as consultants and campaign strategists. They are close to Charles Munger Jr. (see No. 19), the super wealthy bankroller of Republican causes. McNally Temple handled Munger’s Spirit of Democracy, netting the firm $1.8 million, according to disclosure reports for the last general cycle. Presumably, they’ll do fine this year, too, with Munger heavily backing Proposition 54, which is aimed at dubious legislative practices, such as the 11th hour rewriting of bills. With the decline in the number of California Republicans, one might think there would be a commensurate decline in the fortunes of McNally Temple, which was founded in 1980. Nope.
76 John Myers
For a journalist, John Myers, the Sacramento bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, has done it all – radio, TV and print. He ran the KQED office for years in Sacramento and later did special projects for them, and handled political reporting chores at Channel 10, Sacramento’s ABC affiliate. He and his friends – often Marisa Lagos and Anthony York – do the top political podcast in Sacramento, and if you listen hard, you can catch his North Carolina accent. John is a product of Duke University and UC Berkeley’s graduate school of journalism, where one of his instructors was the late, legendary Susan Rasky. (Rasky’s students, spread all over the country at various news gigs, are known as “Raskyferians.”) In between all this, Myers managed to moderate the televised gubernatorial debates in 2010 and 2014.
77 Shari McHugh
Here’s one of those small firms that punches above their weight: McHugh, Koepke & Associates. McHugh and spouse Gavin McHugh have built a solid client list that includes the prison correctional officers, the manufacturers, the credit unions, insurance interests, education, distilled spirits, and others. The insurance interests are important here: McHugh has connections to the industry. She served as VP of the Coalition of California Insurance Professionals, where she dealt with the industry’s lobbying and regulatory agenda. The insurance industry is at the heart of a lot that goes on in the Capitol and McHugh is plugged in. She also has worked as a liaison with the Department of Insurance, an important role, given that insurers and the Department of Insurance generally are at loggerheads over regulation, and the department is financed virtually entirely by the industry.
78 Sean Clegg
Sean Clegg first teamed up with Ace Smith to run Barbara Boxer’s first Senate campaign in 1992. Now, more than 20 years later, Clegg is at the center of the race to succeed Boxer, backing Attorney General Kamala Harris. Smith, Clegg and partner Dan Newman’s SCN Strategies is well-known as one of the state’s most successful consulting firms in the state. Clegg has been part of the operation’s heart, as one of SCN’s founding partners, he’s spearheaded campaigns for some of the state’s most high-profile candidates and ballot battles. Clegg is in charge of advertising production and speechwriting, making him the chief of messaging for many of these campaigns. Clegg left for three years, from 2005 to 2008, to serve as Antonio Villaraigosa’s Deputy Mayor in Los Angeles.
79 Wayne Johnson
The Wayne Johnson Agency is run by – you guessed it – Wayne Johnson, who is at or near the top of the list when California political pros are asked about Republican consultants. He’s handled political strategy for three decades. By his own count, he has been a senior consultant in more than 250 candidate campaigns, and has handled for more than a dozen statewide campaigns, including the successful Proposition 11 to overhaul redistricting. Each election cycle – and this year is no different – he plots strategy involving Republican and moderate Democratic candidates. He has served as president and chairman of the bi-partisan American Association of Political Consultants, as well as an American representative on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Political Consultants.
80 Susan Jordan
Susan Jordan is a veteran Santa Barbara-based environmentalist and director of the California Coastal Protection Network. Jordan is no stranger to political combat: She ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly in 2010 in a race that fractured Democrats, but she has long experience in state and local politics and good political chops. After the Coastal Commission fired executive director Charles Lester, L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez asked Jordan for her response. “Disgraceful!” she snapped. A single word from one advocate hardly seems adequate, but when it comes to coastal conservation, Jordan is one of the environmentalists’ most effective surrogates. People listen to her. As the wife of Pedro Nava, the chair of the Little Hoover Commission and a former Assembly member, Jordan knows the Legislature and uses that knowledge to push environmental causes. Jordan has had a passion for the California coast since she moved here in the late ’80s, and she doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
81 Eli Broad
If money talks – and it certainly does in Sacramento — then everybody listens to Eli Broad, the billionaire L.A.-area developer. Cited as the fourth-richest person in Los Angeles, he’s bankrolled numerous causes over the years. This year, he put money into the effort to support Proposition 55, which would extend temporary tax increases that voters approved in 2012. Last September Broad remapped L.A.’s cultural landscape with the opening of The Broad, a stunning $140 million museum that houses his 2,000-piece collection of contemporary art (don’t miss Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room if you visit). But Broad’s spending on art pales in comparison to his spending on education – nearly $600 million since 1999. Broad has a strong interest in education reform, and The Broad Foundation funds accordingly; a 44-page draft of a plan to replace half of LAUSD public schools with charters evoked howls from the teachers’ unions when it leaked last year. (Ed’s Note: Corrects to show Broad in support of Proposition 55 and deletes reference to law firm).
82 Paula Treat
Paula Treat got her start in politics way back in 1975 as Legislative Aide to longtime Roseville Congressman Harold T. “Bizz” Johnson. She started lobbying in 1977 (for the National Home Furnishing Association) and has been at it ever since. With an uncanny networking ability, four decades of experience and friendships on both sides of the aisle, Treat is sort of a one-person road show who somehow seems to know everybody’s business, including Capitol Weekly’s. These days she is best known as lobbyist for the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians, but she has had an eclectic list of clients that includes Uber, CMA, Cigna, Southern California Edison and the cigar and pipe retailers. Treat, one of the first women to own a contract lobbying firm in California, also heads the board of the nonprofit Leadership California Institute, which has provided research and forums on critical political issues such as voter turnout and the status of women in government.
83 Jason Kinney
The single question we are most often asked about the Top 100 is, “What, exactly, does Jason Kinney do?” It’s a good question. The FPPC came up with their own answer – that Kinney mixed policy consulting with unreported lobbying – culminating in a hefty fine in 2013. Kinney works out of California Strategies, Bob White’s aggregation of heavy hitters, handling major Democrats, including Lt. Gavin Newsom. At any given time he’s usually working on several big projects, and the Newsom connection likely helped him land his current gig as the spokesman for Prop. 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Kinney worked in Gray Davis’ communications shop and is known in the Capitol and among reporters for his political connections and savvy, but he’s also advised any number of corporate clients, including AT&T. Kinney also knows the relationships between strategists, candidates and clients, and is a walking encyclopedia of what’s going on beyond the public view. Kinney and his wife, Mary Gonsalves Kinney, were named one of Sacto’s Power Couples by Sacramento Magazine in their February issue this year.
84 Shawnda Westly
Shawnda Westly is the California Democratic Party’s senior strategist and has served for years as the party’s executive director. But whatever the title, her function is basically the same, colleagues say: She manages the party apparatus – no easy task given the size of the party, its faction and its dominance – and, like Cynthia Bryant for the Republicans (see No. 53), she makes the trains run on time. Democrats can look with satisfaction at the state political landscape: They hold all the statewide constitutional offices and they have hefty majorities in both houses of the Legislature, and much of that success belongs to the well-organized Westly. She and colleague Angie Tate (see No. 49) plan to leave their posts next year, when Chair John Burton steps down. Westly, who set up her own consulting firm in 2005, also worked six years for the California Professional Firefighters and served as a senior adviser to S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom, Treasurer Bill Lockyer and the Consumer Attorneys of California.
85 Kassy Perry
Top political PR pro Kassy Perry is known as a go-to for the medical and pharmaceutical industries (Amgen, PhRMA, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck are just a few of her clients), especially now that Merrill Jacobs has released his iron grip on all things prescription drug-related in California. Perry comes by the affiliation naturally; her father was a longtime researcher and scientist for Scripps, and she majored in biochemistry at UC Davis before falling under the lurid spell of journalism during an internship at KCRA. After college, she gigged as a TV and radio news reporter, but soon moved into communications, working for two California governors, Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian. Her firm, Perry Communications celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year. When asked about her greatest achievement, Perry points to her two daughters, but we think it might be that time she convinced Katie Couric to broadcast her colonscopy live on the Today Show. Or, it could be joining the Open California board, which – full disclosure – she did earlier this year.
86 Jeff Grubbe
In 2012, Jeff Grubbe was elected chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, a tribe of just under 500 members that owns several casinos and resorts on 32,000 acres of land in and around Palm Springs. Grubbe had big shoes to fill; he succeeded the late Richard Milanovich, a towering figure who had led the tribe from hard times to prosperity, opening the first major Native-owned casinos in the state. During his tenure as Chair, Grubbe has overseen ambitious development plans for the tribe’s Palm Springs real estate, and has emerged as a major voice in the seemingly never-ending battle over legalized online gaming. Chairman Grubbe and the tribe have a good relationship with the governor that goes back decades: Brown appointed Grubbe’s grandfather, Lawrence Pierce, to the state Water Quality Control Board back in the 1970s. Tribal members appear to be happy with Grubbe’s leadership, electing him to a third term as chair earlier this year.
87 Wendy Mitchell
Communications consultant Wendy Mitchell, a member of the California Coastal Commission, has strong ties to the Capitol and the politics and intricacies of state budgeting. She was a senior budget consultant in the Assembly, then served as chief of staff to former Sen. Denise Ducheny, the San Diego lawmaker who for years was the Senate point person for the budget. Mitchell, a member of the board of the League of Conservation Voters, was appointed to the Coastal Commission by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Dec. 31, 2010, in one of his final acts as governor. Mitchell is not a household name, but in state political circles she is well known and is viewed as aggressive and effective. Although much of the background of the February ouster of former Coastal Commission Charles Lester remains unknown, Commission sources say Mitchell played a significant role.
88 Bob White
California Strategies, founded and headed by Bob White, is truly an interesting communications and advocacy firm, and here’s why: It’s not top-down. White is at the top of the masthead, but the people who work there – and many of them have been on this list over the years – are really separate business entities operating under the CalStrat umbrella. No matter what the major political or policy issue is in Sacramento at any given time, somebody at California Strategies has an important piece of it. Gary Hunt, Winston Hickox, Carol Whiteside, Jim Brulte (No. 48) Rusty Areias, Steve Larson, Garry South, B.B. Blevins, Jason Kinney (No. 83), Jack Flanigan, Victoria Bradshaw, Joanne Kozberg, etc., etc. White has been a familiar Sacramento figure for years: He served as Pete Wilson’s chief of staff when Wilson was governor during the 1990s, and he earlier served Wilson in a similar capacity when Wilson was in the U.S. Senate.
89 Steve Juarez
UC is a mighty institution that gets things done, and one of the reasons is Steve Juarez, who lobbies on behalf of UC’s Office of the President. People in both houses who know higher education lobbying – and some outsiders, too – say Juarez is one of the reasons. He’s smart, prompt and detail-savvy – characteristics that count for much in the Capitol. UC offers up relatively few bills each session, so Juarez’ load may not seem all that heavy. But he also serves as a communications channel between the Legislature and the university – a critical role, given the image problems that have confronted the school this year and last.
90 Jim Wunderman
Thinking big is Jim Wunderman’s trademark. He is president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which describes itself as “a CEO-led public policy organization focused on making the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley the most globally competitive and economically productive region in the world.” Although it is focused on the Bay Area, Wunderman’s clout is such that few decision makers in Sacramento believe they can afford to ignore the Council’s policy positions. In 2013, Jerry Brown selected Wunderman to open California’s official trade office in China. Closer to home, the Council works to improve life for commuters, storm and flood protection. Its board of directors has representatives from the Bay Area’s most influential figures, ranging from Genentech to the San Francisco Giants. Wunderman’s background is diverse. He has been a high-ranking staff member for San Francisco Mayors Frank Jordon and Dianne Feinstein before taking the helm of the Council in 2004.
91 Jeff Randle
Jeff Randle runs Randle Communications, a consulting firm that handles a variety of political and corporate chores, including the campaign this year backed by the California Hospital Association to support Proposition 52, which would ensure that hospital fees go to Medi-Cal patients and related care. Randle has deep Republican roots: He was deputy chief of staff to Gov. Pete Wilson, and he was a key member of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political team. Randle also was a senior adviser to former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in her 2010 campaign for governor. Randle is a go-to guy in California for House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy – McCarthy and Randle became friends when McCarthy was in the Legislature – and Randle recently helped the House leadership with a major fundraiser. House campaign strategists also have asked Randle for fundraising help with the Scott Jones congressional bid, a top GOP priority.
92 Sean Parker
Marijuana legalization legislation has been simmering for years in California, but this year, it’s coming to a boil. In part, that’s because of changing cultural views about marijuana. But it’s also because of Sean Parker, the cofounder of Napster and the former president of Facebook. Parker sponsored the unsuccessful 2010 ballot measure to legalize marijuana. This time around, the favorite horse in the race is the one that Parker has put his money on – Proposition 64. Last month, Parker donated over $1 million to the effort, and as soon as he got behind initiative language, he became the face of the legalization effort. He’s not limited to weed, however: He’s hosted fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and other political causes. He also is a philanthropist, funding medical research in the state.
93 Dean Cortopassi
Though we catch a lot of flak for salting this list with old white guys, it would be hard to leave off Dean Cortopassi, the 78-year old Delta farmer who just might blow up the Delta tunnels and derail the bullet train. The Stockton-born Cortopassi insists that it is his concerns about public debt, not his landholdings in the Delta, that drove him to create a ballot measure to force a public vote on public works projects over $2 billion that would be financed by revenue bonds. To that end, he had Nielsen Merksamer draft the No Blank Checks initiative, Proposition 53. Cortopassi has put $4.5 million into the effort, and has inspired a coalition of strange bedfellows in opposition, including CalChamber and the State Building and Construction Trades Council. Gov. Brown has come out in loud opposition, and foes of the initiative are hoping that he will shake loose some of his $20 million campaign war chest to fight the measure. We’ll see.
94 Lisa Gasperoni
As chief political consultant to former Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, Gasperoni earned her pay: she is credited as the campaign savant responsible for the Dems’ surprise capture of a two-thirds majority in the Senate in the 2012 elections. Gasperoni left the Senate in 2013 to focus on LG Campaigns, the political consulting firm that she runs out of an office just down the hall from Jerry Brown’s old digs above Mikuni Sushi at 16th and J. She’s helping out with legislative efforts, and did a bang-up job this year as senior campaign strategist for her old boss Darrell Steinberg’s recent run for Sacto mayor – he avoided a runoff, winning the race outright in the June primary with 59% of the vote. She got her start as a fundraiser for the Assembly Democratic Caucus later moving to the Speakers Office of Majority Services. She left the Assembly for a gig at Ross Communications, where she did 20 years as CEO before returning to the building to give Republican strategists heartburn.
95 Jennifer Fearing
Many other lobbyists on this list work at large firms, but Jennifer Fearing runs Fearless Advocacy, a solo shop which pushes for better animal treatment. She handled the successful Proposition 2 of 2008, which, among other things, barred poultry farmers from using chicken cages that prevented the animals from turning around freely or fully extending their wings. Since then, she’s been successful in getting approved – or blocking – dozens of measures, including the passage of legislation in 2013 to ban lead in ammunition. This year, she played a role in negotiations that led Sea World to announce it would no longer breed whales in captivity. Fearing, who has a political science degree from UC Davis and a master’s from Harvard, represents the Humane Society of the United States, as well as several local SPCA chapters and nonprofits, including the Pew Charitable Trusts.
96 Mark Baldassare
Anyone who writes about politics and public policy in California has an ally and resource in Marc Baldassare’s Public Policy Institute of California. Calm, authoritative, far-ranging, impartial and always accurate, the PPIC is invaluable — and that’s understating the case. Baldassare, president of the Institute, maintains a high level of interest in California politics and is a frequent and sage commentator on our ongoing saga. With headquarters in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District and an office in Sacramento’s Senator Office building, the PPIC takes in-depth looks at everything from water to education to periodic statewide surveys on how Californians feel about their state and how it’s governed.
97 Janelle Beland
Janelle Beland, undersecretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, has been described as one of Jerry Brown’s most trusted advisers, aggressively ensuring that the governor’s views are represented in decisions affecting California’s resource strategy. Her responsibilities range from the Delta smelt to marine plastic pollution to coastal issues. Beland’s most high-profile recent activity has been support for expanding day-use fees for visits to the spectacular Sonoma Coast, an issue that has embroiled the Coastal Commission in a fight with local activists. Her background includes work on political campaigns and a stint as deputy press secretary at the Justice Department. She was a lobbyist for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and was a senior adviser and caucus director for former Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg. Brown appointed her as undersecretary in May 2011.
98 Michael Weinstein
AIDS activist Michael Weinstein is leading the charge on two controversial initiatives slated for the November ballot: Proposition 60, which would require the use of condoms in adult films, and Proposition 61, which limits the price state health programs can pay for prescription drugs. Weinstein is no stranger to the initiative process: In 1986, he helped organize a campaign against Prop. 64, a Lyndon LaRouche-sponsored ballot measure that would have allowed people with AIDS to be quarantined. Weinstein is the founder of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest global AIDS organization, which operates clinics in 36 countries. The AHF has so far spent $11 million in support of the two measures; opponents have put up nearly $70 million fighting them. While the work of the AHF has earned near-universal accolades, Weinstein is himself a polarizing figure. He’s earned enemies with what the L. A. times called his “hard-charging style,” and a recent change.org petition to remove him from the AHF garnered more than 4,300 signatures.
99 Nancy Drabble
If it’s a high-stakes political fight involving lawyers, chances are pretty good that you’ll find Nancy Drabble in the middle of it. Drabble is the CEO of Consumer Attorneys of California which describes itself as representing “the interests of 39 million Californians. Our member-attorneys stand for plaintiffs seeking accountability from those who do wrong.” If you’ve been injured in a car accident and the other guy was at fault, chances are you’re going to be represented by one of Drabble’s member attorneys.Consumer attorneys like to think of themselves as fighting “to level the playing field for underdog consumers facing wealthy and powerful foes” such as “big polluters, insurance companies, automobile manufacturers and banks.” Powerful they may be, but when Drabble’s organization gets involved, they pay attention. Drabble is a veteran Sacramento player. She came to CAOC in 1986 after a stint with Ralph Nader’s consumer rights organization, “Nader’s Raiders.”
100 Daniel Borenstein
Moraga Orinda Fire District Chief Peter Nowicki probably never expected his name to become synonymous with pension spiking, but thanks to Bay Area News Group columnist and editorial writer Dan Borenstein, that’s exactly what happened.Borenstein’s 2009 article revealed that the 26-year department veteran had traded his $185K annual salary for a $241,000 per year pension when he retired at age 50 – all perfectly legal. While Nowicki’s case was a rarity, the resulting fallout helped fire up a flurry of pension-reform legislation, much of it from former San Jose mayor Chuck Reed who seems to have a new pension reform ballot prop every couple of years. OK, that’s great, but why does Borenstein land in the Top 100 now? No particular reason (you know how we keep saying that this list is subjective – it is) except that we love his reporting and the little bird that tells us about pension issues says that Borenstein is one of the folks people read. Sounded good to us. Oh yeah – The Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association board “unspiked” Nowicki’s pension by $1.2 million last year, btw.