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Contra Costa Times (California)
Apr 04, 2004 - 01:00 AM

by Gary Delsohn, SACRAMENTO BEE

Lawyer tapped to run state's regulatory office

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named a lawyer Friday to run the office that reviews state regulations.

Edward Heidig, a Republican who was bounced from a regulatory job 10 years ago after Democrats objected to his appointment, most recently has been general counsel to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, was named director of the Office of Administrative Law.

He also ran the Administrative Law Office, known in state government as the AOL, from 1998 to 1999 under Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.

"Ed's accomplishments as an attorney and his history of public service make him uniquely qualified for this position," Schwarzenegger said in a written statement.

In 1995, Wilson nominated Heidig to head the Integrated Waste Management Board, but Senate Democrats refused to confirm him after raising questions about his integrity. Attorney General Bill Lockyer, then a state senator, said Heidig had improper private meetings with people who did business with the board.

Heidig, who called Lockyer's charges "partisan ... and nonsense," was given another job by Wilson -- public adviser to the California Energy Commission -- that didn't require Senate confirmation.

The new appointment pays $123,264 a year and requires Senate confirmation.

Neither Heidig nor Lockyer could be reached for comment Friday, but Lynette Magnino, spokeswoman for the Sacramento diocese, had nothing but praise for Heidig.

"He was truly a tremendous asset to the diocese," she said. "In his five years there he was involved in managing all the legal affairs of the diocese and was constantly the voice of reason and compassion. He'll be missed. He's a great guy."

Doug Heller, of the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which has criticized Schwarzenegger's freeze of certain state regulations, expressed concerns about the controversy from Heidig's past and said it's extremely important that the agency be beyond reproach.

"Because this position is the filter for all the state's regulations," Heller said, "it's very important that we have someone ethical and truly unbiased in this job.

"It's not the job of the AOL to implement the governor's vision. It's job is to implement California law. and we hope the governor applied no acid test that Mr. Heidig be anti-regulation before being appointed."

In a prepared statement issued by Schwarzenegger's office, Heidig said he was "honored" to get the appointment and that he shares Schwarzenegger's "commitment to enacting regulations of the highest quality that better the lives of the people of California and our economy."

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