Sacramento Bee Database Tracks Gifts to State Leaders

From an analysis of thousands of lobbyist disclosure reports, the Sacramento Bee has developed a database that tracks gifts to state lawmakers between January 2008 and June 2009. During those 18 months, lobbyists gave legislators, their staffs, and relatives about $610,000 in gifts, including concert tickets, 424 meals at the upscale Sacramento restaurant Spataro (average cost: $57 a meal), kegs of beer, and free travel to destinations from Hawaii to Hungary. (While legislators may not accept more than $420 in gifts annually from a single organization, there is no restriction on gifts to lawmakers’ friends and families.)