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Where are they now? Former state Senator Frank Hill

In the state Capitol, Frank Hill was among the best and the brightest–and to
some, he still is. The former assemblyman and senator was the go-to strategy
guy for Republicans, a problem-solver and power-broker who got things done.

He was a political warrior who sought no quarter, and gave none. He was
tough and smart and if things had turned out differently, Hill likely would
have risen to GOP leader of the state Senate, held a statewide office or run
for Congress.

It didn’t happen.

One night in August of 1988 FBI agents raided the Capitol–“I knew they were
FBI agents, they were wearing hats!” said one staffer, who ran smack into
the agents in the elevator just before they swooped through the Capitol with
search warrants. The FBI had set up fake companies seeking official favors
from lawmakers in return for money. An assortment of legislators, staff
members and lobbyists got caught up in the feds’ net, code named BRISPEC for
“bribery special interests” by the undercover agents. Among them was Hill,
who ultimately served a 46-month sentence for his 1994 conviction on federal
extortion and money laundering charges stemming from a $2,500 payment he
took from federal undercover agents. The payment was videotaped by the FBI.

Hill got out of prison in 1998 and rebuilt his life. Some friends thought he
had been railroaded by prosecutors, and others felt that Hill, a prominent
Republican, had been singled out by the Clinton administration. But his
friends gave him their support. “When I first got out of the big house, they
were waiting for me,” Hill said told Capitol Weekly in a telephone interview
from his Whittier office. “It was fabulous, it was almost kind of
embarrassing, that so many folks were sympathetic. Folks went out of their
way to be supportive.”

Today, Hill does consulting work with former Democratic Assemblyman Michael
Roos of Los Angeles, and he advises clients on how to deal with local
governments on development issues. For example, in one high-profile case, he
was involved in representing ENCO, an Anaheim-based power company that was
seeking to do business with the City of Irvine. “I’ve got my own consulting
business, and I offer advice on land use, entitlement stuff. I probably work
on three or four projects at a time.”

He retains an interest in politics–he follows Sacramento’s political wars
closely and he is an unofficial adviser to a number of Orange County
politicians–and he stays in touch with politicians in both major parties. “I
keep hearing a lot of stuff has changed. But the stuff I worked on really
wasn’t Republican vs. Democrat,” he said. “I worked on deals.” On the
morning that he spoke with Capitol Weekly, he had just got off the phone
with John Burton, the former Senate Democratic leader.

“I help clients figure out what motivates the people in government,” he
added.


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