Oh, dear readers, you know that we here at FRL love to publish the goofs and funnies as news, but every once in a while something so juicy, so scandalous, so ham-y, comes through our slippery, fishy, fins that we simply must publish it without alteration. Beware, because while none of us have studied epistemology enough to know if we can really know anything, some of what you see below might even be true. What you are reading is the final product of grueling minutes of real journalistic work, consisting of sending emails, pouring over uncountable pages of documents (6 pages total), and doing several quick online searches.
According to official state documents, University of California President Janet Napolitano owns no property other than her residences, owns no stocks other than diversified mutual funds, has no other income other than from her position as UC President, has no interests in any business, and for the entire year of 2018 only received one gift from a non-family member other than a comped dinner: a $110 honeybaked ham. These simple facts raise several questions. How do you know this shocking information? Why does that matter at all? And the most important question of all: What happened to that honeybaked ham that was so amazing that it cost more than 8 Men In Black III Blu Ray Discs?
Let’s start with how we know anything about what the former secretary of homeland security and former Arizona Governor owns. In California, a law passed by voter initiative in 1974 known as the Political Reform Act stipulates that elected officials and many non-elected state officials disclose their financial interests. It is the policy of the UC that the president must have ‘full disclosure,’ including investments, ‘real property’ (apparently my upgraded house in Stardew Valley would not count), and all gifts. I personally got this information, in the form of something called a Form 700, from a public records request sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. I initially asked for all of Janet Napolitano’s emails, but then was told that I could not have those for 4 separate reasons, including that me seeing those emails would “discourage candid discussion within the agency and thereby undermine the agency’s ability to perform its functions.” I thought this was odd, mostly because the selling point of Ms. Napolitano’s monthly newsletter is that “it’s important you know what I’m doing and thinking.” I personally like to think that this means that people in positions of power also reply to Domino’s promotional emails asking for free pizza just like you or me, and they’re just too embarrassed to let us know, but I digress. So I asked for the Form 700 because I wanted to feel like I won the interaction and I knew that they had to give it to me.
Honestly, the form is pretty much a nothing-burger. It’s a little weird that someone with a net worth of over $2 million according to celebrity net worth dot com has no investments or businesses worth disclosing, but comparing it to other Form 700’s filed by state officials it might not be so weird. Turns out a lot of people either don’t fill out the form well, or just don’t have investments. For example, Governor Newsom is invested in a few obscure energy companies, the Tanzanian Royalty Exploration Corporation, and his multi-million dollar winery. Ms. Napolitano probably just spends her $570,000 a year salary on the absolute essentials to avoid trickling down her wealth. There’s no real way of knowing how she spends her money, and there’s no point in speculating that she spends it on pools filled with gold coins, donations to Syrian refugees, or thousands upon thousands of boardwalk caricature drawings of herself. However, examining the form is still important because it is one of the few ways that the public has to keep public officials accountable without having fancy lawyers tell you that you don’t know enough about the law to see documents that you think should be public.
That brings us to the ham. The honeybaked ham. Sadly here there are only questions and no answers. Why did the ham cost $110? Where could one purchase such a ham? How exquisite and refined did it taste? Did Janet cook the ham herself, or did it not even need to be cooked since it was already honeybaked? What does honeybaked even mean? Why would someone who is likely only a work acquaintance give you a whole ass ham? Did Janet give the ham-giver a gift back? Is the ham some sort of a message, like a horse head in the bed type situation? Was it the final piece in a long line of meat based gifts? Did it actually cost $110 or does Janet not know how much a ham normally costs? We may never know the answers to these questions, but there is one person who has all the answers. Janet, we await your reply.