The leader of the California Senate announced Friday that he's ending a practice of providing free after-hours transportation to lawmakers in an effort to restore public trust.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon said he directed security staff to stop offering such rides immediately. The Sacramento Bee reported last week that the Senate hired two part-time employees earlier this year to provide late-night and early morning transportation for lawmakers when they're in Sacramento.
Four lawmakers in the past five years have been accused of drunken driving. The latest was Sen. Ben Hueso, a San Diego Democrat arrested last year for driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
De Leon, of Los Angeles, said security experts had recommended the rides, although it's not clear when it was started.
"The Senate after-hours emergency services program was reinstated at the recommendation of security experts for the safety and protection of our Senators and hundreds of staffers, but, given the confusion caused by recent media reports, I have asked the Chief Sergeant to discontinue the infrequent practice of providing late-night/early morning transportation for Senators, effective immediately," de Leon said in a statement.
Senate records show two assistants were hired Feb. 2 to provide transportation for Senate members. The employees are paid $2,532 per month.
Senators were also given small plastic cards with a number for 24-hour transportation. It included a phone number for Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Debbie Manning, telling members to call her "in an emergency."