Sadly, no one in the room can be surprised the California Legislature has conveniently lost interest in enacting significant reforms that might impede its members access to campaign money.
After all, no less an expert than former Golden State political powerhouse Jesse Unruh told us years ago that money was the "mother's milk of politics."
He certainly knew whereof he spoke and he was -- wait for it -- on the money.
One might have thought three closely spaced scandals involving state senators would move lawmakers to take some reasonable action. That is especially so since the latest scandal was a few notches above your run-of-the-mill political scandal as it saw Sen. Leland Yee's arrest in connection with an FBI sting involving international gunrunning.
Why, even Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg pretended to think the scandals would produce some tangible reforms from his colleagues. He took to the Senate floor and said, "sometimes it takes a crisis" to get proper reforms through the system.
To be sure, the Legislature has done some easy stuff. You know, the stuff you do when you want to make it look like you are doing something.
For example, there was strong support for legislation to ban fundraisers at lobbyists' homes. They also doubled the amount of campaign finance reporting required annually and they even limited the value of gifts lawmakers can receive from outside groups.
But other measures that might have more substantial impact have been quietly killed, often with little or no explanation.
Sen Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, knows the sting of such actions. His excellent proposal to strengthen the state's Political Reform Act by barring lawmakers from taking expensive free trips and preventing indicted lawmakers from using their campaign accounts as legal defense funds.
All that seemed pretty reasonable to us, but those provisions were mysteriously struck from it in the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is led by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. Adding insult to injury, de Leon is about to replace Steinberg as the Senate's leader, so hope of future reforms doesn't look too bright.
The Senate did adopt a new rule that imposes a fundraising ban on its members for the last four weeks of the legislative session, but it is toothless. There are no legal penalties for officials who break the rules, except being reprimanded by their colleagues.
To be fair, de Leon and Steinberg did push through new Senate rules that impose fundraising restrictions, offer whistle-blower protection to Senate staff and require the chamber to hire an ombudsman.
But those are hardly the reforms that are going to convince us lawmakers are interested in much more than "mother's milk."