Paul Fong Owes Lobbyist $100K

Paul Fong doesn’t like to pay his debts. At least not in cash. In his sixth year in the State Assembly, Fong still has a $100K bill he acquired during his 2008 campaign. If that seems like a lot, it is. But the creditor in this case—Richie Ross, one of Sacramento’s most notorious lobbyists—raises some serious questions about Fong’s ability to vote with his conscience. Right after managing Fong’s successful campaign in 2008, Ross went back to his role as a lobbyist. He’s been wildly successful in doing this work, both in terms of getting paid—he’s collected a little less than $760,000 just in lobbying fees in the last five years—and getting legislation passed. But during this time, Ross has also been able to count on Fong’s vote. Every. Single. Time. Of the 42 bills, between 2009-13, that Ross lobbied the legislature, 35 made it to the Assembly floor. All 35 of Fong’s votes were “ayes” in favor of Ross’ clients, which include Native American tribes, formidable state construction and attorney associations, and nonprofits. Ross owns his own print shop and mail house, which means he could easily control, and inflate, candidate expenses before waylaying payments—perhaps in lieu of “non-monetary” contributions. “This is Ross’ business model,” a political consultant told Fly. “What he does is completely unethical. You don’t make money on campaigns. You make money on being a player in Sacramento and [lobbying].” Ross has a flair for the dramatic that has made him feared and admired for decades, which could be why legislation specifically aimed at barring his two-way transactions in 2003 never made it to a vote. Fong, who along with Ross ignored requests for comment, won’t be so lucky. His record will be inspected as he clings to a political career while running for a seat on the San Jose City Council.

Send a tip to The Fly

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. I don’t have access to all 35 bills at this time, but I bet that all 35 bills (irrespective of who drafted them) would have been supported by liberal democrats in the assembly anyway.

  2. I just looked at the Santa Clara County Registrar’s FPPC data. Paul Fong has separate committees for his ’08, ’10 and ’12 Assembly races. The filings are listed online, but the documents aren’t available online.

    So the “Honorable Paul Fong” has likely owed $100k to a lobbyist the entire time he’s been in office, and no one noticed until now?

    I wish I had know about this earlier. I wouldn’t have voted for him for Assemblyman. I wasn’t planning on voting for him for City Council, but now I certainly will not. I didn’t like the fact that he moved to San Jose to run for Constant’s seat. That was a petty issue compared to this.

  3. Pingback: Fri. political law links, 2-28-14 | Political Activity Law/Political Law/Election Law

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *