Sam Blakeslee said he was putting personal ambition aside. The maverick GOP lawmaker from San Luis Obispo announced he would leave politics to run a nonprofit bankrolled by a big donor.
His only aim at the California Reform Institute would be to promote common-sense solutions to big policy problems vexing Sacramento.
An early "Strategic Plan" for the nonprofit reviewed by The Los Angeles Times, however, lays out a different goal: "Devise and execute a plan that makes Blakeslee a politically viable candidate for Republican statewide office in 2014."
The July 2011 document maps out how the institute's policy proposals would be a vehicle to "create messenger credibility" needed to make "a Blakeslee gubernatorial bid feasible." It suggests the state senator, whose standing as a moderate makes him a rare GOP politician with statewide appeal, spend his final months in the Legislature grabbing the media spotlight with bills intended to provoke Democrats.
The plan was never meant for public consumption, and now it could be a legal liability. The IRS has tended to consider boosting the political prospects of a candidate an unacceptable mission for a nonprofit, which taxpayers subsidize.