UFW lobbyist & Shiroma campaigner Richie Ross: “Cheating is OK.”

“Because we’re teaching you about lobbying in this class, cheating is OK,” lobbyist Richie Ross told Sacramento State students. “Shortcuts.”

Image courtesy of John Rankin

Even though the veteran political operative was only making a quip, according to the Sacramento Bee reporter covering the class, Ross was illustrating one of his political trademarks: If you want to get your way, you can’t stoop too low.

Ross’s longtime political and financial connections to ALRB board member Genevieve Shiroma have prompted calls for Shiroma to be disqualified from serving. At least one lawmaker has said Shiroma must step down for “unethical behavior” with Ross.

“Ross is best known in Sacramento as a campaign consultant for many of California’s highest ranking democrats and a longtime lobbyist and ally of the United Farm Workers,” the Sacramento Bee reports.

According to the Bee, Ross tells students that “personal stories and testimonies are more likely to sway lawmakers than facts. Big numbers suggest the problem is insurmountable, Ross advises, while smaller numbers mean the bill can make a difference.”

Ross assigned a student to read 1960s radical Abbie Hoffman’s 1971 work, Steal This Book, described as “an anarchistic survival guide to defying capitalism and the American status quo.”

Ross was a contemporary of the late Hoffman. “He has been described as ‘brilliant,’ ‘a fiery, profane warrior’ and a ‘Svengali-like figure’ in countless news stories about his dealings over the years,” the Bee reports. “Longtime California politician Bill Lockyer once described Ross to The Sacramento Bee as a social activist at heart, pointing to his loyalty to the UFW.

“Then a seminarian, Ross met Cesar Chavez in Baltimore in the 1960s. Chavez asked Ross to become a UFW organizer in California, and he’s advocated for the organization for his entire political career,” according to the Bee.

Ross took his students into the office of Assemblywoman Gonzalez. The Bee describes the setting: “Out of her earshot, Ross explains the meet-and-greet with the San Diego Democrat as an ‘antecedent.’ They won’t lobby her now, but they’ll need her later on.

“Gonzalez and the students take selfies in front of a mural in her office of the Virgin Mary with the black Aztec eagle from United Farm Workers symbol in the background. They talk for several minutes before Gonzalez calls Ross out.

“‘I’m an organizer, and I know I just got organized,’ Gonzalez said. ‘He’s like, “she’ll never stop the bill now.”‘”