NLG on Defeat of SB 335 Corporate 3 Strikes bill

joydancer joydancer at
Fri Jun 6 14:26:31 EDT 2003

Note:    Both Sen. Romero and the lobbying group, the Foundation for
Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, have indicated that they will
work on this bill again. FTCR will work again on the corporate whistleblower
protection bill that they successfully lobbied last year through the
California legislature, that was vetoed by the California governor. They
indicate a better chance of the governor signing the legislation this year.


June 4, 2003
National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles


Corporate crime walked free today in the California Senate when three
Democrats joined five Republicans on the Appropriations committee to kill
the Corporate Three Strikes Act.

Senate Bill 335, introduced by Senator Gloria Romero (D- Los Angeles) and
co-authored by Senator Sheila Kuehl (D- Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Loni
Hancock (D-El Cerrito), would have been the toughest corporate
accountability law in the nation, putting out of business in California any
company convicted of three felonies in a ten year period.

The Bill was friendly to business because it restored honest competition. It
was unfriendly only to corporate felons. Yet the Republicans all
instinctively voted against it. They are filled with fulminations against
the teenager who steals a slice of pizza, ready to lock him up for life. But
their hearts bleed for the corporation caught dumping toxic waste or
defrauding consumers of millions of dollars. Their position is that
Three-Strikes-And-You're Out is good for pizza thieves, but corporate felons
deserve perpetual existence.

Today, three Democrats on the Committee showed that their hearts, too, march
to the beat of that Republican double standard. Democrats Debra Bowen
(D-Redondo Beach), Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) and Michael Machado
(D-Stockton), whose votes could have saved the Bill, killed it instead.

"It became clear to me in long discussions with Bowen and Speier's offices
that they were madly hunting for excuses to destroy it," commented Professor
Robert Benson of Loyola Law School who advised Romero on the Bill. "They
were ignorant of the history of corporate regulation, and of the fact that
legal authority for the state to put corporations out of business for law
violations has been on the books in California for 150 years. They were
unaware that even the American Bar Association recommends this legal tool
and that Senator Romero was just trying to get the state to actually use it,
at least in outrageous cases of three-strike repeat-offender corporate
felons. They had long lists of technical quibbles, all of which were
precisely answered, but they didn't care about the answers. They kept
pulling more rabbits out of the hat and asking you to play fox in a
disingenuous game. They should have just come clean in the first place that
Bowen and Speier have made a political calculation that cozying up to
corporate power is going to help them run for statewide office in 2006. We'
ll see about that."

All scholars who have researched corporate crime have concluded that its
costs far exceed the costs of ordinary crime by individuals. Senator Romero
had thought that after the recent scandals with Enron, Anderson, WorldCom,
Haliburton, Tenet Healthcare and other corporate miscreants, the California
Legislature was finally ready to get tough on corporate crime. Today, the
Republicans and Democrats Bowen, Speier and Machado signaled that it is
still business as usual when it comes to coddling corporate criminals.
Romero says she will reintroduce the Bill next year.


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