"We are talking about a relationship where one person's job is to try to influence people in the other person's position: a lobbyist representing a certain constituency over which this lawmaker has some decision-making power," said Jessica Levinson, an expert in political ethics at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
"The concern is always the same – is this elected official doing a good job? Is he serving the public? Or is there any chance the elected official is serving himself and making decisions based on who he is dating?"
A review of legislation the California Medical Association is lobbying this year shows Maienschein frequently – but not always – votes its way.
Levinson and other government watchdogs said Maienschein should step down from committees that routinely vote on bills the medical association lobbies, such as the health and business panels.
"I don't think we can say, 'Drop out of office, or stop dating this person,' but I think we can suggest, 'There may be a more appropriate committee for you to sit on,' " Levinson said.
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