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California Lawmakers' Spring Break Destinations: Japan, Cuba

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Some California lawmakers aren’t spending their spring break this week back home – or even in Florida.

Three senators – including President pro Tem Kevin de León and Republican Leader Bob Huff – are in Japan this week for meetings on high-speed rail, climate change and disaster preparedness.

Eight Assembly Democrats – including Speaker Toni Atkins – are in Cuba, where the potential end of the U.S. trade embargo could create opportunities for California exports.

“We can absolutely look at some of these trips and say, oh, come on, you just wanted a vacation that was paid for by your campaign contributors,”  Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson.

But she says it’s important to judge each trip on its own merits. “Not every trip is like that. I think some of these trips are actually useful, fact-finding missions.”

The Senate trip is organized by the taxpayer-funded Senate Office of International Relations.

The Assembly trip is organized by a Sacramento non-profit whose board members include lobbyists.

Lawmakers can choose to pay for the trips with personal funds, campaign funds, or both.

Note: An earlier version of this story stated that the Assembly trip was "paid for" by a Sacramento non-profit. The story has been updated to clarify that the non-profit organization organized the trip.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio