As he rose to be a finalist in Joe Biden’s vape tracks, Bass took shape as an activist and reluctant politician. But in Sacramento, she is remembered neither as the radical her opponents made her to be — nor as a crusader.
She raised money from corporate interests. It has given wage increases to lawmakers amid a devastating economic crisis. And as the leaders of the National Assembly did before and after it, Bass led a legislature with a history of depravity that would not reach its head until nearly a decade later with the #MeToo movement.
“Karen Bass was a conventional politician. She didn̵
During his rise to prominence, Bass adapted to the ways of an institution dominated by lobbyists and business interest groups before the legislature. It has provided donations from industries that have since failed to benefit Liberal Democrats, including oil companies and drug manufacturers. It inherited a kind of “decimal” system for power players, created and later optimized by leaders who ruled decades before Bass, from Jesse “Big Daddy” Unru to Willie “Ayatollah of the Assembly” Brown.
The money was used to maintain their ruling majorities, as well as their influence within the MP.
Bass’s story of raising and spending money seemed to many of her contemporaries. And she participates in the culture. She was released on a warning from the State Commission for Campaign and Ethics after raising funds in April 2009 at the home of Sacramento lobbyist Kevin Sloat, who hosted dozens of lavish events for politicians, where he provided drinks and refreshments. drinks, cigars and floral arrangements, the committee later hit Sloat with a state record $ 133,500 fine for violating lobbying laws.
Between January 2008 and June 2009, Bass received about $ 13,700 in gifts funded by lobbyists and other special interests and appeared with colleagues as one of the top recipients of free tickets to concerts and other entertainment events worth over $ 2,700. It failed to uncover dinners paid for by AT&T, the Pechanga group of the Luiseño Indians (operators of the Pechanga resort and casino in Southern California) and oil giant Chevron worth $ 113, $ 94 and $ 59, respectively. in ethics in 2009 and paid a $ 600 fine.
Bass also charged state taxpayers nearly $ 9,000 outside the country after flying to Washington five times over a two-year period. A spokeswoman at the time told the Associated Press that Bass needed a deep knowledge of foster care and that she was the first black woman to serve as a legislator. Bass, for his part, is working to extract as much money as possible from the federal stimulus, the spokesman said. Bass is running for Congress in 2010.
“I remember her as a competent legislative leader who somehow looked less transactional and disgusting than some of her predecessors, but also didn’t like it: ‘I’m going to come in here and really clean a house,'” said Derek Kressman, who was regional at the time. Director of the Western States for the Advocacy Group General reason. “To be honest, I’m not sure I would tell any legislative leader in California. That way, you don’t rise to leadership in California law. “
But Cresman, who no longer has a common cause, added: “I would not describe her then or now as a true type of reform leader.”
Bass herself described her role as a managerial speaker when asked in 2016 about the Duvall incident. Bass told The Washington Post that her immediate concern is for Duvall – to ensure that “they don’t blow their brains or anything like that.” This is the regime I was in to protect him from myself and to protect him from the other Republicans because they were ready to kill him! ”
“I felt like a speaker was an advanced management of the boys. That’s what I called it,” Bass said. “The other thing that came out of that experience was how in the world [women] take rap to be hysterical? I spent all my time managing the emotions of the male members. ”
Democrats broadly defended Bass’s work on the Duvall issue, citing a lawmaker’s opinion that after Duvall resigned, the issue fell outside the jurisdiction of the ethics committee. In a statement to POLITICO on Wednesday, Bass referred to the opinion, saying he had found that “the Ethics Committee’s investigation would be controversial because it [Duvall] he was no longer a member of the Assembly and was now a private citizen. ”
Noting that she removed Duvall from his commission positions and referred the matter to the ethics committee, she said: “Over time, both California law and Congress have improved their systems for preventing and responding to sexual harassment and abuse, but there are still is a way to overcome ourselves in our society. When this question came to my attention, I didn’t just turn my head and look the other way – I took quick action. “
Years after Bass left, the Capitol was shaken by a public outcry from women in Sacramento to change the culture from within, especially around sexual harassment. Adama Yiwu, a Sacramento lobbyist who helped lead the movement, said while the activity had been around for a long time: “It was not discussed.”
“It’s something I look back on and I think I could do more,” said Yiwu, who recalls her excitement when Bass took over. She pointed out the social changes and the new law for extending the restrictions on the term for supporting the change. “We all felt it was a long-term issue and we could do more for the women who come before us.”
Bass was the leader of the Assembly for only two years. Squeezed between two more prominent speakers, Fabian Nunes before her and John A. Perez after her, she was seen by California Democrats then – as Biden is now – as a transitional figure suitable for turbulent times. She was well-liked and respected by Democrats and Republicans in the Capitol, but she left an indelible mark on the state.
Today, only 56 percent of Bass’s native Democrats are able to comment on her potential selection as Biden’s ruling half, according to an IGS poll conducted in Berkeley on Tuesday.
Bass arrived as a speaker after the Californians approved the terms, but before they voted to ease the rules so that members of the Assembly could serve ten years instead of six. During the Bass era, a third of the Assembly passed every two years, and speeches lasted only a few years at a time.
Bass won the Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her role in a much-publicized budget deal. But the deal relied less on Democrats than on a group of Republicans who crossed party lines to approve tax increases – and paid for it with their political careers. Bass’s contribution helped unite the two countries as it was bought by the Democrats for deep cuts.
Bass advocates universal health care and expands the protection of undocumented immigrants, among other progressive causes. But at the time of the Bass spokeswoman, the state was consumed by deficits. Bass and other Democrats measure success less by reaching for new initiatives than by preventing the gutting of cherished programs.
“I still have PTSD for what we had to do during that time,” Rap said. Norma Torres (D-California), one of the many Democrats who served with Bass in the state legislature and the US House, and who praised her term as speaker in interviews this week. “She was very successful in getting members to hold hands and vote for all these very difficult votes.”
Speaking to Los Angeles magazine in 2009, Bass said: “This year has been one of the most painful in my life – not from a personal point of view, but from a professional one. It is very, very painful that I am tearing apart what I set out to defend. “
But with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who proposed dramatic cuts to government programs for social services and education, said: “I feel good that we have been able to defend these programs. If they were completely eliminated, it would be very difficult to recreate them. ”
To the other participants in the budget talks – and to their observers – Bass stood out for his consistent demeanor and ability to negotiate. Even Republicans and their officials admired her.
Susan Kennedy, Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff, described a “noticeable increase in citizenship when she was in the room. She behaved aloud and always had a very low tolerance for political posing.”
For many politicians, Kennedy says, “At some point, everything just becomes number and politics.” But with Bass, “It was always about the people affected by the programs, and it was unique. This does not mean that other politicians were not interested, but when you are in negotiations and it just becomes a horse trade, it has never traded in horses. “
Sometimes, however, Bass seemed out of touch politically. In 2009, newsletters reported that she and Republican leader Mike Villines were awarding salary increases to more than 120 lawmakers. At the time, the state was not only facing a large budget deficit – legislative leaders demanded that voters approve the tax extension ballot.
Bass overturned wage increases after the story, saying they had become a distraction. But just before she left public speaking the following year, she raised and raised the salaries of 20 lawmakers. In a statement, Bass said he was proposing modest salary increases, “up to a few dozen bipartisan employees, most of whom earn less than $ 50,000 at the end of my term as speaker.”
Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who was also a speaker of the Assembly and has known Bass since the early 1970s, said her treatment as vice president was a validation of her unique profile in California politics.
“What I think is special about Karen is that she didn’t want to run [for speaker], “Add Villaraigosa. “She almost had to be convinced, and I think that’s because she’s always been about work, not her personal progress or strengthening.” She understands the importance of working down the aisle, working along ethnic and racial lines, and to support the community. “