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The Sacramento Bee reported this week that a dozen legislators are off on a junket to China. Fiona Ma and Ted Lieu are the trip’s lone Democrats, which includes 10 Republican Assembly members. Of course, it should be no surprise that Ma is along for the ride. According to IRS filings, Ma is the former treasurer for the group sponsoring the trip, the California State Friendship Committee. Another one of the group’s officers, Francisco Hsieh, has received $43,000 from Ma as a paid campaign consultant. The Bee reported the trip will cost about $5,000 per person–and lawmakers are paying their own tab …

As chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, Merv Dymally apparently voted in favor of the caucus endorsing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for president. But that, apparently, doesn’t mean Dymally himself endorses Obama. In fact, Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced this week that the Compton Assemblyman was backing the senator from New York for president. “I am proud to endorse Senator Clinton because she understands that access to quality and affordable health care should be available to every American. As President she will make universal healthcare a reality,” Dymally said in a statement released by the Clinton campaign. As for the Obama endorsement? Dymally said he was simply doing it to appease an “abusive” Assemblyman Mike Davis. Davis dismissed Dymally’s allegations, but it’s clear that presidential politics has divided the legislature’s Black Caucus …

And kudos to Contra Costa County, the only county whose elections officials provided anything approaching useful information in our public records act request over the term limits measure’s near-death experience. In the records obtained by Capitol Weekly, county clerk Steve Weir acknowledges he was contacted by the proponents’ attorney, Robin Johansen, and asked to re-examine the county’s one duplicate signature. The signature was later ruled valid, and that one reversal provided the margin for the measure to qualify for the February ballot.
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