Riverside County reviews lobbying contracts

Riverside County supervisors are reviewing their contracts with an umber of high-powered lobbying firms to see if they are getting their money’s worth.

"This allows us to take a breath, step back and look at the legislative successes and failures so we can determine whether the lobbyists are doing their job," Supervisor Kevin Jeffriestold the Valley News. Jeffries, a former Assemblyman, proposed the performance review.

"Several firms do great work; others are absent from the picture," he said.

The county has four separate contract lobbying firms on payroll. They include the Sacramento-based firms Cline & Duplissea, Michael Y. Corbett & Associates and Nielson, Merksamer to represent its interests at the state level, while Thomas Walters serves as the county's point man in Washington.

According to Jeffries, the county's state and federal lobbyists are collectively paid $412,000 a year. That doesn't include a separate $175,000 per annum that the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District pays for its own federal lobbyist.

The review comes as the county welcomes a new legislative affairs director. Former state Assemblyman Brian Nestande, who lost a congressional bid Nov. 4, was hired over the holidays by county CEO Jay Orr and is earning an annual salary of $168,000 to oversee the county's legislative priorities.