Participants at the May 11 bullet train fund-raiser are no strangers to ethics probes.
- Willie Brown had been investigated by the FBI in a 1980s undercover sting while he was Assembly speaker. His name surfaced at the FBI again when he was mayor, after questions of favoritism arose in airport construction contracts. Brown always denied any wrongdoing and has never been indicted or censured, either as a lawyer or a politician.
- Terry Goggin fared worse. The Fair Political Practices Commission fined the then-assemblyman $13,500 in 1984 after he carried a bill to require telephones for the deaf. Only one firm could provide the devices, a firm owned by a close friend of Goggin, according to published press reports.
- Richard Katz, who had a reputation as an effective state lawmaker, was fined $4,000 in 1997 after failing to disclose campaign expenses in a Los Angeles mayoral race. Questions surfaced again during the state energy crisis when he advised Gov. Gray Davis, while taking consulting fees from firms lobbying the governor.
- Michael Bernick was one of the potential donors present and is now with HNTB, an engineering design firm. When he was an elected BART board member, an FBI wiretap caught him soliciting contributions from a firm after ensuring that the firm would get a BART contract. "We've got to keep it real clean," Bernick was taped saying in 1992. "You know, so there is nothing linking the two of us."
Later Bernick told the media, "I'd do it again." He was taped as part of a bribery investigation that forced the resignation of BART board member Margaret Pryor. Current board member Dan Richard served at the time and said Bernick, who was never indicted, simply made a judgment error.