Senate leader taps 'dearest friend' for $128K job

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 14, 2014 at 6:34 pm •  Published: January 14, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A committee led by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg appointed one of the Democrat's closest friends to a $128,000-a-year job on a board that has long been criticized as a plum position for termed-out lawmakers.

Sacramento attorney John Adkisson was sworn in Tuesday to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, which oversees unemployment and disability disputes in the state.

Adkisson has been paid $300,000 a year for two state government roles since 2009: $150,000 as special counsel to the Senate and Legislative Counsel; and $150,000 as director of the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes, an office that was created at Steinberg's urging.

Steinberg, who will be termed out of office later this year, told The Sacramento Bee in 2009 that his former law school classmate was "one of my dearest friends."

"They are, but that takes nothing away from the fact that he's extremely qualified," Steinberg spokesman Mark Hedlund said Tuesday.

Adkisson's law practice since 1984 has had an emphasis on employment law. He has been a professional arbitrator and mediator, and he owned and operated a firm that produced and distributed employment-training materials and provided employee training.

"He didn't just pluck me out of a group of friends. This is the kind of work I've been doing all along," Adkisson said in a telephone interview. Adkisson noted he is taking a pay cut to fill the board position, which is full-time even though the board meets monthly.

The appointment, made last week by the Senate Rules Committee, fills a vacancy and will last for one year. Adkisson said he has been doing contract work for the Senate Rules Committee for 20 years, since before Steinberg was elected to the Legislature.

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