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.
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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.