Capitol clout, by the square foot

Political status usually is reflected in endorsements, donations and legislative victories. But inside the Capitol, there’s a pecking order measured out in square feet and nice views.

Just ask Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucaipa, who finds himself sitting in the smallest legislative office in the Capitol. How small? Try 391 square feet. In fact, it’s the office that went unoccupied when the Assembly went down to 79 members for a while last year.

Cook acknowledged that as a freshman in the minority party, he wasn’t expecting the Taj Mahal. But he and five staff members, a group that includes two interns and an Assembly fellow, make due in two cramped rooms. The next smallest office–occupied by another freshman, Republican Assemblyman, Ted Gaines, R-Roseville–is 151 square feet bigger.

“I asked ‘What did I do to deserve this?'” Cook joked, noting that he hasn’t had time to cast any votes that would really anger anyone. “They probably didn’t know I was going to have this many staff.”

The disparities are not limited to freshmen. Overall, Assembly Republicans average 756 square feet, compared to 1080 for their Democratic colleagues, according to figures provided by the Assembly Rules Committee. This does not count the leadership offices occupied by Speaker Fabian N

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