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Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 List


51. Daniel Zingale
Daniel Zingale is the California Endowment’s ‘Man in Sacramento,’ serving as Senior VP of Policy, Communications and Public Affairs. If that title seems broad, well, it is – but it fits the 360 degree view of health that defines the Endowment’s efforts. Air Quality? Health. Water quality? Health. The neighborhood surrounding you? Health.  From diabetes awareness ads to Safe Streets community programs to the HealthyCal.org site, the Endowment’s (and Zingale’s) influence is everywhere in the statewide discussion of health and healthcare. Full disclosure here: The Endowment has been a financial supporter of Capitol Weekly. Zingale came to the Endowment in January 2009 after a stint as a Special Advisor to Governor Schwarzenegger – an odd fit for a lifelong Democrat – where he was regarded as a linchpin in negotiations between the Legislature and the governor on healthcare legislation. A Sacramento native, Zingale has been a human rights and healthcare reform activist for over 25 years.

52. Paula Treat
Paula Treat, a veteran advocate and the chair of the nonprofit Leadership California Institute, has been a lobbyist for 39 years and was one of the first women to own a contract lobby business. A well-known fixture in the Capitol, she is viewed as an advisor by legislators, bureaucrats and even rival interests, and she’s got friends on both sides of the aisle. She is considered a go-to lobbyist on tribal gaming issues, not only for her principal client, Pechanga, but also because she knows, minute by minute, what everybody else is up to.

53, Barry Brokaw
Like others on this list, Barry Brokaw paid his dues as a Capitol staffer, working nearly 20 years as a committee consultant and as a legislative chief of staff. His firm, Sacramento Advocates, includes himself and Donna Brownsey, and between them they handle an impressive client lineup that includes Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Western Union, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the American Red Cross, the Delta Coalition, Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, and others. Brokaw’s Capitol experience included an 18-year stint with the Sen. Daniel Boatwright, a colorful Concord Democrat. He set up Sacramento Advocates in 1990 and he immediately drew attention: A 1990 article in the L.A. Daily News said he had “immense political clout.”  Brokaw has politics in the family, with son Brian Brokaw a political campaign consultant – he managed Kamala Harris’ successful campaign for attorney general.

54. Michael Burns
Michael Burns is a partner in KP Public Affairs, which has been the highest-paid lobbying firm in Sacramento for years. Last year, KP – which does a lot more than lobby — billed $6.2 million on lobbying alone, more than anybody else. That’s a hefty chunk of the total $40.4 million billed that year by all of the lobbyists – and there are hundreds of those. That’s a lot of dough, as Sam Spade says, but KP’s clients have it – Western States Petroleum Association, Westlands Water District, Colgate-Palmolive, SeaWorld and Comcast, among many others. Despite the blue-chip operation, KP travels under the radar, by design. And they are successful at that, too, since half of KP’s lobbyists, including Ed Manning and Jonathan Ross, should be on the list, too. Burns, a UC Santa Barbara grad, headed the Chicago and Southern California offices of Burston-Marstellar, the PR firm, before coming to KP in 2003.

55. Robbie Hunter
Robbie Hunter, Ireland-born, is the leader of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, a major Capitol labor presence, an umbrella organization with 160 unions representing 350,000 skilled construction workers that has been happy to flex its political muscle over the years. Hunter, who hails from Belfast, took over from long-time Council chief Bob Balgenorth in 2012. Hunter earlier served earlier as Executive-Secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. Hunter started his apprenticeship as a steel erector working in the Harlan & Wolfe shipyards, where his great-grandfather, John Quinn, had helped organize the union in 1906 and built the gantry cranes on the Titanic. Hunter moved to the U.S. in 1978.

56. Steve Maviglio
Somehow, 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, a Democratic strategist and spin master with deep political roots, has worked outside government, inside government and sometimes both at the same time. He served in the New Hampshire Legislature. In California he has handled numerous consulting and strategy chores, including as an information guru for Gov. Gray Davis and assorted Assembly speakers, including John Pérez. In between he has waged a battle with foes of public pensions and even picked a very public fight with Consumer Watchdog, the Santa Monica-based activist group (whose chief also is on our list). His clients seem to be everywhere, but probably aren’t – it’s just that they are involved in many of the issues that reporters write about. He makes little secret of his spin but his facts are strong enough to carry the day. Plus, he really likes politics. Cool.

57. Lisa Gasperoni
At the Senate, Lisa Gasperoni’s job is basic: protect the Democratic majorities. She does it well, and more: Democrats have a top-heavy majority in the upper house and maybe they’ll even keep it. As Chief Political Consultant to Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, Gasperoni has earned her pay. She has 25 years of experience in handling some 200 legislative, supervisorial, city council and mayoral races.  She also created LG Campaigns, a political consulting firm that is affiliated with another major campaign warrior, Gale Kaufman (See No. 15). For Democrats, this combo sounds a little like Dreamworks. Meanwhile, Gasperoni is likely to continue to advise the Senate leadership after the termed-out Steinberg departs.

58. Kathy Dresslar
Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg’s chief of staff is Kathy Dresslar, which means she serves at the core of the upper house’s administrative level. It’s a good fit for Dresslar, who has first-rate people skills and a deft touch. With Steinberg set to depart and Sen. Kevin de Leon poised to take over, however, Dresslar is the midst of an uncertain period. The period is especially difficult because of the scandals that have erupted in the Senate over the past year: One senator was convicted of perjury and voter fraud, and two others are under federal indictment on corruption and other charges. All are Democrats. Steinberg, the Senate’s leading Democrat, has not been implicated in any wrongdoing at all, but life in the Senate clearly has been tense lately. Dresslar, whose task is part political, part administrative and part policy, was a senior advocate for the Children’s Policy Institute, a legislator and chief of staff in the Assembly and former chief of staff to Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

59. Courtni Pugh
When you think of labor politics and clout, you think of Courtni Pugh, the executive director of SEIU Local 99 who also served as SEIU’s state political director, a major gig in a state where the powerful union is embroiled in battles, and not always with outsiders. A political strategist, Pugh has held senior posts in such campaigns as John Edwards for President, Kerry-Edwards 2004 and Gore-Lieberman 2000. Ms. Pugh also has served the Democratic National Committee, the Alliance for a Better California and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO). Before she was at Local 99, Pugh was the national redistricting project director at SEIU, one of the largest unions in the country, as well as California. She was the first woman and the first Asian Pacific Islander American to hold the job.  A former L.A. Times newsie once described her as the “sharpest labor strategist I met” during a brief stint covering labor, and others in the Capitol clearly agree.

60. Charles Munger Jr.
Stanford University professor Charles Munger Jr. has become a significant political figure in California politics, starting with his support four years ago of Proposition 10 in 2010, which extended independent redistricting to congressional seats, and continuing through the current election cycle. Munger is the son of Charles Munger, the billionaire vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, and he’s a substantial supporter of the California Republican Party and GOP causes and candidates. He’s also the chair of the Spirit of Democracy committee, which spends millions on behalf of campaigns. State financial disclosure records show Spirit of Democracy spent $3.87 million through the end of June. In one odd twist, Spirit of Democracy funded a mailer depicting Democrat Steve Glazer as a victim of rival Democrat and Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti in the ferocious 16th Assembly District race – which Glazer lost. The mailer, sympathetic to Glazer, apparently was aimed at boosting Sbranti’s GOP rival in the fall.


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  • Thomas Patrick O’Shaughnessy

    As always very interesting especially as you move down the list.

  • chenchen

    yawn…sacramento congratulating itself and making itself feel important. 90% of the folks are career hanger on-ers…recycled after each administration…hardly any new blood or new generation of leaders. this list should not be celebrated but serve as a reality check of politics as usual in sacramento

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-Buzzetti/100002479839847 George Buzzetti

    We are breaking this game apart in L.A. especially in schools and at LAUSD in particular. Who cares what they say or want when they do not care about the regular citizen. Not me that is for sure. And by not caring and “We Set the Agenda” critical thinking we tell them what we want, provide the proof and reasons why and if they laugh at us them they get hell. Simple. Mess with us we mess with you. Real clear and precise plus easy to understand. Real Accountability.

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