State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has joined the Orange County office of an international law firm, where he'll practice law part time until his term in office ends in January 2015.
While some political observers caution that a second job could raise conflicts for the veteran Democrat, Lockyer insisted Monday he'll remain California's full-time treasurer first and foremost.
"Actually, more than full time -- it's seven days a week in some ways," he said in a telephone interview. "The firm is satisfied that treasurer responsibilities are always primary."
Lockyer, 72, of Hayward, announced in June that he would not run for state controller in 2014, ending a 46-year political career that began with a local Democratic committee and culminated with 16 years in statewide office. He said Monday he'll join the government law and strategies team at Brown Rudnick LLP in the firm's Irvine office; the firm has about 200 attorneys in Boston, New York, Washington, London and other cities. As treasurer, he earns $139,189 a year; but Lockyer's office won't reveal what the law firm will pay him. He will be required to disclose that on his economic interest statement next year.
California's constitution says state officers can't take pay from a lobbyist or lobbying firm, including law firms that employ lobbyists. Lockyer spokesman Tom Dresslar said Brown Rudnick isn't registered to lobby in California, so there's no conflict.
Larry Gerston, a California politics expert at San Jose State, said Lockyer can do this "because he is no longer on the political radar effective next year. ... Almost any other person would find himself under a great deal of criticism and scrutiny for even the possibility of mixing these two positions."
Lockyer, his wife and their son have kept homes in Hayward and Long Beach for some time, and he said they'll still do so.
Lockyer in June had said his troubled relationship with his wife, former Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer -- whose extramarital affair and drug addiction put them in the headlines and their marriage temporarily on the rocks last year -- didn't influence his career decision. Things continue to improve on that front, he said Monday: "Nadia is out of her residential treatment program, and we're all living together and Diego is enrolled in school in Long Beach."
The firm welcomes Lockyer in a capacity "which will fully accommodate his duties as State Treasurer," chairman and CEO Joseph Ryan said in a news release, adding their agreement "will ensure that he can continue to discharge his public responsibilities free from distractions, conflicts or time constraints."
Lockyer said he'll offer "strategic advice" on government and legal matters in other states. But Gerston noted "California isn't an island, its financial doings quite often move into other states, whether it's buying and selling of bonds or relying on out-of-state banking institutions." And Lockyer comes to this job with a trove of contacts made during his decades in office plus a $2.1 million campaign war chest he can dole out to other California candidates and committees.
But those funds are policed by the Fair Political Practices Commission, and Lockyer said the law firm "has a rigorous internal conflict and ethics review" to ensure this new work doesn't conflict with his state office.
In the past, he had been counsel to the Hayward firm of Furtado, Jaspovice & Simons while serving in elected office.