From the Hanford Sentinel:
HANFORD — Who thought that Curt Pringle would resurface in connection with high-speed rail?
Pringle is infamous among Kings County rail opponents for a testy exchange he had with then-Kings County Farm Bureau Executive Director Diana Peck in 2011 when he was California High-Speed Rail Authority board chairman.
Pringle’s perceived shabby treatment of Peck and allegedly dismissive attitude toward Kings County residents’ concerns helped inspire a local grassroots movement against the controversial $68 billion project that would slice through Kings County.
Now Pringle’s name has popped up again, this time after Bay Area watchdog group Citizens Advocating Responsible Rail Design (CARRD) revealed the Pringle is a lobbyist for Parsons Transportation Group Inc., which is a member of joint venture firm Tutor Perini/Zachary/Parsons.
On Aug. 16 — the same day a judge ruled the Authority’s business plan broke the law — Tutor Perini was awarded a nearly $1 billion contract to build the first section of high-speed rail, a 29-mile stretch from Madera to Fresno.
The contract is controversial because Tutor Perini had the lowest technical and safety rating of all the bidding companies, and the Authority board changed the rules to give Tutor the winning bid.
Parsons Transportation Group sent a memo dated Feb. 7 revealing that it hired Pringle’s Anaheim-based lobbying firm “to advise on infrastructure projects in the State of California.”
Pringle couldn’t be immediately reached for comment on his lobbying role.
Pringle left the Authority board in July 2011 under pressure from allegations that he flouted state conflict-of-interest laws by simultaneously serving as Authority board chairman, mayor of Anaheim and member of the Orange County Transportation Authority.
Pringle’s reputation for pushing the envelope raises red flags for Elizabeth Alexis, CARRD co-founder.
“There are all these rules on revolving doors, and they’re generally so narrow that people find ways to get around them,” Alexis said. “When there’s even a question that [officials] may be working for their own future interests, we lose confidence in government.”
Dan Richard, rail Authority board chairman, said he had no knowledge of Pringle’s connection to Parsons/Tutor Perini.
“I don’t deal with Curt Pringle,” Richard said. “I’ve met him twice, and that’s it. He didn’t ask me to do anything.”
“Whatever he’s doing for [Parsons/Tutor Perini], it doesn’t involve us,” Richard added.
State law prohibits former officials from lobbying their ex-colleagues for a period of 12 months after leaving office.
The issue has resonance in Kings County thanks to former state Sen. Michael Rubio, who abruptly resigned in March to take a lobbying job with Chevron. It was a classic example of the “revolving door,” where former lawmakers turn around and lobby the Legislature for money and favors once they get out.
Rubio said he didn’t break ethics laws because he won’t have any direct contact with his former colleagues.