Campaign 2014

Maria Shriver leaves out inconvenient fact about paid family leave

maria-shriver-grab-today.pngAuthor and activist Maria Shriver posted a tribute to California's groundbreaking, decade-old paid family leave law in the Huffington Post last week. She notes that California led the way in the nation, but somehow fails to give credit for the law. Could that be because the law's lead sponsor and chief champion was former legislator Sheila Kuehl? Kuehl is currently running against Shriver's brother Bobby to succeed Zev Yaroslavsky on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Writes Maria Shriver on HuffPo:

We're thankful that in a few places around the country, new parents are getting some of the help they need. This month California is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its first-in-the-nation Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, which has helped more than 1.5 million parents take paid time away from work to bond with a newborn or adopted child.

Since the law's passage, research has confirmed that paid family leave offers real and lasting benefits both to families and to employers. Mothers and fathers are getting increased bonding time with newborns. Breastfeeding rates have almost doubled for mothers who take leave. There are lower rates of postpartum depression, and health outcomes among children have improved. Perhaps most important, as we pointed out in the Shriver Report, programs such as California's PFL law can boost employment and family income by allowing parents to go back to work at their old jobs after taking family leave. In fact, an overwhelming majority of employers report that providing family leave has a neutral or even positive impact on productivity and their bottom line.

It's much different in a Huffington Post item by Kuehl supporter Peter Dreier, the Occidental College professor, back in March. Excerpt:

Art Pulaski, leader of the California Labor Federation, recalls Kuehl's sponsorship of California's groundbreaking paid family law, enacted in 2002, that provides up to six weeks of partially paid leave to care for a seriously ill family member or new child.

"Many people said it had no chance to pass," Pulaski said, "but Sheila was unstoppable and got it through. It was the first paid family leave bill of its kind in any state. Now it's a model for the rest of the country."

"She wasn't just an good vote for working families, she was a real ally," Pulaski observed. "She worked with us on every aspect of legislation, from writing bills to formulating strategy. And she knew the details, not just the talking points. We couldn't have asked for a stronger partner."

Arch suggestion by someone in Kuehl's camp: is this a stealth way for Maria to endorse Kuehl, without doing so overtly? (Wink.)

Add Kuehl-Shriver: Rick Orlov notes in his Monday Daily News column that John Shallman is the latest LA political consultant to open up a so-called independent expenditure committee to spend money on behalf of Shriver, outside of campaign spending limits. Harvey Englander and Eric Hacopian had run committees for Shriver in the primary. Kuehl finished first in the primary with 35.96 percent, to Shriver's 29.17 percent.

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Zev makes clear: he has not endorsed Shriver