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CA17: Khanna won’t refund wage-theft CEO’s $$$

By Josh Richman
Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 5:30 pm in 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna won’t refund a contribution from the CEO of a company fined this week for labor abuses, as the Alameda Labor Council – which solidly supports seven-term incumbent Rep. Mike Honda – has demanded.

Electronics For Imaging paid several employees from India as little as $1.21 an hour to help install computer systems at the company’s Fremont headquarters, federal labor officials said Wednesday. Honda, D-San Jose, on Thursday promised to introduce legislation to stiffen penalties for wage theft like this.

EFI CEO Guy Gecht contributed $2,600 to Khanna’s campaign in September 2013; campaign staffers removed his name Thursday from a list of Khanna’s tech-executive endorsements.

Khanna issued a strong denunciation of EFI’s practices, but the labor council on Friday urged him to refund Gecht’s money.

“When Khanna approached us for support, he promised that he was a progressive, but we’ve long been concerned that Khanna has been acting as a tool for right-wing millionaires and conservative CEOs to push their policies,” Josie Camacho, the council’s executive secretary-treasurer, said in a news release. “Hopefully even he can agree that there is no room for this kind of practice in Silicon Valley. Ro should immediately refund the $2,600 donation from Gecht.”

Khanna spokesman Tyler Law replied Honda “seems to have just discovered that wage theft exists two weeks before an election.

“Further, he has had no problem taking huge amounts of money from defense contractors, big pharma, and many other special interests including PG&E – even after their criminal negligence resulted in the death of eight people,” Law said. “It’s unfortunate that Congressman Honda is playing politics on the backs of workers.”

But Gecht’s money is “not returned,” Law added when pressed on the issue.

Law noted Honda’s campaign also has paid more than $15,000 to “one of the most anti-labor communications firms in the Bay Area,” San Francisco-based Singer Associates. Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan, a former SEIU staffer, emailed local and state labor leaders on Monday with a litany of cases in which Singer Associates has worked against unions, including during last year’s BART strike; during a battle between AT&T Park management and concessionaires in 2013; and during hotel workers’ 2010 fight for better wages.

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CA17: PCCC aids Honda, Newsom aids Khanna

By Josh Richman
Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 1:03 pm in 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House

It was a battle of the proxies Friday in the 17th Congressional District as a national liberal grassroots group came to Rep. Mike Honda’s aid while Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom made a plea on Democratic challenger Ro Khanna’s behalf.

Both say the race is basically tied, and that their chosen candidate needs a little added oomph to seal the deal.

PCCCThe Progressive Change Campaign Committee and liberal firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., sent an email to PCCC members – about a million nationwide, including about 125,000 in California – urging them to donate money to or make phone calls for Honda’s campaign. PCCC also is adding Honda to its “Call Out The Vote” program, mobilizing calls to voters from its national election headquarters and volunteers across the country on his behalf.

“Mike Honda is one of my closest allies in the House — a solid progressive champion,” Grayson writes in the email. “But today he’s in a tight race against a challenger lavishly funded by corporate big shots. The latest poll in his California district shows Honda up two points – and in this progressive district, that’s only due to corporate money.”

The email lauds Honda’s record before claiming “a bunch of corporate CEOs have decided they’d rather have a tool of their own in that seat, so they’re backing Mike’s opponent – a guy who has refused to commit to protecting Social Security benefits, let alone expanding them.”

As I’ve previously reported, Khanna has balked at expanding Social Security benefits but has repeatedly vowed to protect existing benefits for “current and future seniors.”

PCCC spokeswoman Laura Friedenbach said Friday that helping Honda win is a no-brainer for her group, especially since Khanna sent out a mailer blasting Honda as being too liberal.

“Khanna can’t seem to decide what party he sides with, but he’s made one thing clear: He’s not on the side of progressives,” she said. “This race is center stage in a national battle taking place between corporate Democrats and Elizabeth Warren wing Democrats for the soul of the Democratic Party.”

The plea for help on Honda’s behalf comes as Honda appears to have the upper hand in cash to spend from now until Election Day. But Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said it’s a sign of desperation.

“Yesterday the Honda campaign sent out a desperate email saying they might have to close down a field office,” Law said. “Today they’re begging for out-of-state-support because they don’t have enough local volunteers. Actions speak louder than words, and their actions are making it pretty clear they are worried.”

Newsom, in an email blast sent out by Khanna’s campaign, urged voters to sign up to volunteer in the campaign’s final weeks.

Gavin Newsom“Silicon Valley leads the world in innovation, and it deserves a representative who works as hard and is as entrepreneurial as the people in this district,” Newsom wrote. “That’s what Ro brings to the table.

“We need someone who will fight to make sure local businesses can grow, help create good paying jobs, and make sure the economy works for everyone, not just those at the top,” he added. “Ro has concrete plans to get it done. And throughout this campaign, he’s shown that he will listen to the people in this district and fight for what matters to you.”

Honda spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan replied that Honda “is proud to fight for progressive values like raising the minimum wage and expanding Social Security, and grateful to have the backing of grassroots allies like the PCCC and it’s thousands of members. This is a stark contrast to Ro Khanna, who is relying on the millionaires, billionaires, and companies that fund his Super PAC to call the shots.”

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CA17: Honda spends big while Khanna runs dry

By Josh Richman
Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 6:21 pm in 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House

That dull thud you heard echoing across the 17th Congressional District recently was the sound of Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign dropping a massive $651,000 in October’s first half, according to a report filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.

Ro Khanna, Honda’s Democratic challenger, spent only about $168,000 during the same time, his report shows – and his campaign is now on the financial ropes.

Recent polls have shown a close race between the seven-term incumbent Honda, D-San Jose, and Khanna, and each have tried to maximize their impact since vote-by-mail ballots went out Oct. 6.

Honda’s report shows his campaign – which started the month with about $1 million in the bank – raised another $106,000 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, leaving him about $420,000 cash on hand but just short of $10,000 in debt at the close of that period.

The lion’s share of the spending went to the Washington, D.C. media and strategic communications firm of Adelstein Liston: $370,960 for a digital media buy and another $66,926 for “media services.” Next came the San Francisco-based Terris, Barnes & Walters campaign firm: $107,348 for direct mail, and $25,000 for campaign consulting.

Khanna – who started this race with far more money but spent most of it before June’s primary, in which he finished 20 points behind Honda – had about $218,000 cash on hand at the start of this month but about $141,000 in debt.

His new report shows he raised about $97,000 but spent about $168,000 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, leaving him with $148,000 cash on hand but $141,000 in debt – so, about $7,000 in unencumbered money.

Most of Khanna’s October spending – almost $111,000 – went to Chicago-based AKPD Message & Media (run by Obama campaign paid-media mogul Larry Grisolano) for direct mail.

I don’t yet see a pre-general report for Californians for Innovation, the independent super PAC formed this summer to support Khanna’s campaign and bankrolled in large part ($250,000 that we know so far) by Texas energy hedge fund billionaire John Arnold. When I do, I’ll update this post accordingly.

UPDATE @ 10:20 A.M. FRIDAY: (Sorry this is late, but I made an executive decision to take last night off.) Californians for Innovation’s report shows it raised $90,000 and spent $233,000 in the first half of October, leaving it with about $175,000 cash on hand and $30,000 in debt as of Oct. 15. Other FEC filings show it has spent about $58,000 more since mid-month.

Its contributors in the month’s first half were:

  • Arthur Patterson of Accel Partners (Palo Alto) – $10,000
  • Venkatesh Harinarayan of Cambrian Ventures (Mountain View) – $25,000
  • Anand Rajaraman of Cambiran Ventures (Mountain View) – $25,000
  • Rajeev Madhavan of Magma Design Automation (San Jose) – $5,000
  • OO Investment LLC (San Francisco) – $25,000
  • I initially can’t find much about OO Investment, but I’ll pursue it.

    Most of the spending – about $214,000 – went to Mailrite Print & Mail Inc. of Sacramento for direct mail. The $30,000 debt is owed to veteran Democratic political consultant Roger Salazar of Sacramento, for campaign consulting services.

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    CA17: Honda blasts firm fined for wage theft

    By Josh Richman
    Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 5:12 pm in 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House

    Rep. Mike Honda talked tough Thursday against a Fremont company that the Labor Department has fined for unfair labor practices – the CEO of which is a donor to and endorser of his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna.

    Electronics For Imaging paid several employees from India as little as $1.21 an hour to help install computer systems at the company’s Fremont headquarters, federal labor officials said Wednesday.

    Honda, D-San Jose, issued a statement Thursday saying these practices “constitute the most egregious type of wage theft and employee abuse. They undermine fair labor competition among businesses, and if left unaddressed they would erode the idea that this is an economy of opportunity.”

    Honda said the Labor Department “operated within their guidelines to deliver justice” – a $3,500 fine plus payment of more than $40,000 in back wages – but wage laws must be updated to deter such things “especially for a publicly traded, multi-national corporation that generated $197.7 million in revenue in its last quarter.”

    “As soon as Congress comes back into session, I will introduce a commonsense change in our labor laws which will ensure that there a strong, effective minimum penalty in place for offenders, and increase the maximum penalty enough to deter unscrupulous employers from contemplating wage abuses against workers in the United States,” Honda said. “We will send a message that wage abuses are human rights abuses and competitive abuses that will not be tolerated by our economy and society.”

    EFI CEO Guy Gecht contributed $2,600 to Khanna’s campaign in September 2013, and is listed among Khanna’s tech-executive endorsements on the campaign’s website. (UPDATE @ 5:19 P.M.: Khanna’s campaign has just removed Gecht’s name from the endorsement list.)

    “The inexcusable exploitation by Electronics for Imaging goes against everything that Silicon Valley stands for,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Thursday. “Their behavior is not representative of the hardworking and honest people who live and work in the 17th District, and should serve as a reminder of why we need strong labor laws in this country. Ro is encouraged that they have been fined by the Labor Department and is committed to forcefully confronting any company that engages in wage theft.”

    UPDATE @ 5:45 P.M. FRIDAY: The Alameda Labor Council, which staunchly supports Honda, has called upon Khanna to refund Gecht’s money; Khanna has declined.

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    New Padilla TV ad, Peterson radio ad in SoS race

    By Josh Richman
    Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 2:01 pm in 2014 general, Secretary of State

    Alex Padilla, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, launched a 30-second television ad Thursday highlighting his personal background and legislative track record.

    Padilla, a state senator from Pacoima, doesn’t mention his Republican rival, Pete Peterson, at all in the ad.

    The ad is running on cable channels in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles media markets, said Rose Kapolczynski, Padilla’s campaign consultant. “We’ll be adding in broadcast a little bit later, and we’ll be on now through the election.”

    She wouldn’t say how much the campaign is spending to air the ad, but said it’s not as much as usual.

    “If we had all of the statewide races heavily on the air, we’d be paying a premium for every spot,” she said. “But most of the statewide candidates are not heavily advertising, so for a down-ballot race like ours, we’re getting more bang for the buck.”

    Peterson hasn’t aired television ads, but has a new one-minute radio ad that urges voters to look beyond party labels, underscores that Peterson sees the job as nonpartisan, and touting his newspaper endorsements.

    Campaign finance reports show Padilla had about $410,000 cash on hand but about $4,600 in debt as of Sept. 30, but it seems he has collected at least $342,000 in new contributions since then. Peterson basically was in the red as of Sept. 30 – $52,500 cash on hand but $81,100 in debt – and has raised only about $46,000 in major contributions since.

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    Brownie Mary Democratic Club rises in East Bay

    By Josh Richman
    Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 10:34 am in Alameda County, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, marijuana

    The East Bay has its first marijuana-oriented Democratic club.

    As Brownie Mary Democratic Club, created to advocate for the rights of California marijuana. has been chartered by the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee with members including Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward; county Democratic chairwoman Robin Torello; and county committeewoman Ginny DeMartini. It’ll be chaired by committeewoman Denise Martellaci and vice-chaired by committeeman Rick Trullinger.

    “The Brownie Mary Club will help bridge the cannabis community throughout Alameda County and educate our elected and future elected with cannabis reform issues,” Martellacci said in a news release. “Our Brownie Mary members are representatives from a wide spectrum and will demonstrate to the Democratic community our seriousness and abilities to meet our 2016 goal of full marijuana legalization for adults in the state of California.”

    Members of the club are already walking precincts for cannabis-friendly candidates, and plan to help with phone banking and fundraisers. But its first order of business was to make endorsements – no surprises in the state, congressional and legislative races – including Rebecca Kaplan for Oakland mayor and taking a “no” position on Proposition 46 and a “yes” on Proposition 47.

    The new club also is working on a pending Alameda County ordinance that would limit use of e-cigarettes, by advocating for patients who vaporize their medical marijuana.

    It’s named for “Brownie Mary” Rathbun, a renowned activist who baked brownies for AIDS patients in San Francisco in the run-up to California voters’ approval for legal medical marijuana in 1996.

    The Alameda County club is the sixth such group chartered in the state, after Riverside, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Francisco. The previous clubs were a visible presence at the March 2014 state Democratic convention in Los Angeles, and succeeded in getting the party to add a platform plank supporting “the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol.

    Also represented in the club are cannabis reform groups California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance and the California Cannabis Industry Association, along with cannabis advocates Dan Grace of Dark Heart Nursery, Sean Luce of Berkeley Patients Group, attorney James Anthony, and Hank Levy, CPA. Union representative Debra Pearson, with SEIU Local 1021’s Alameda County Committee on Political Education, and campaign strategist Mark Goodwin are also on board.

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    Nehring ad: Newsom’s policies encourage addiction

    By Josh Richman
    Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 1:10 pm in 2014 general, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, marijuana

    Ron Nehring, the Republican challenger to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, has launched his first video ad, claiming Newsom’s policies will lead to more drug addiction.

    Nehring spokeswoman Nyna Armstrong said the ad will run online only, at least for now. “Then, we’ll decide what our ad buy will be based on the response that we get.”

    Newsom campaign spokesman Sean Clegg seemed angry that a reporter had contacted him seeking comment.

    “This is not an ad,” he replied by email. “This is a video produced to hoodwink journalists into writing that he has an ad. There is no real TV buy. If I send you the video my eight-year-old son made will you post that too?”

    Nehring’s ad features a series of women speaking to the camera. “In America, one baby is born addicted to drugs every hour. More lives destroyed. If Gavin Newsom gets his way, drug abuse in California will skyrocket. More women addicted to drugs.”

    “These are our daughters. Mothers. Sisters. Friends,” it continues. “You can’t be pro-woman, and be pro-more women addicted to drugs. There’s nothing Democratic. Nothing progressive. About addiction.”

    Yet Nehring’s ad never mentions how Newsom’s policies would further drug addiction.

    Newsom last year was tapped to head the American Civil Liberties Union’s panel studying marijuana legalization in California, with an eye toward drafting a measure for 2016′s presidential-year ballot. He said at the time, and has reiterated since, that he can’t support a status quo of high prison and police costs associated with marijuana enforcement that disproportionately affects minority communities. He recently said the same on KQED’s “Forum” radio show, saying he favors taxing and regulating marijuana to keep it out of children’s hands.

    The jury is still out on whether recent recreational legalization in Colorado and Washington state have led to increased use or abuse, with organizations and agencies on both side offering conflicting reports.

    Nehring, a former state GOP chairman from El Cajon, offered a 2010 RAND Corp. study to bolster his claim that “drug abuse in California will skyrocket;” the study actually projected “consumption will increase, but it is unclear how much.”

    Nehring issued a statement saying California faces big challenges with poverty, unemployment and failing schools, and “we don’t solve them by swinging wide open the doors for more drug abuse and dependency. That’s a distraction that takes our state in exactly the wrong direction.”

    Nehring said he supports reforming drug policy by focusing on treatment instead of imprisonment, as the Project SAM organization advocates. “Gavin Newsom will claim that there are only two choices: the status quo or his legalization idea. Yet, there is a third and better way that puts the emphasis on treatment while avoiding creating the conditions that will lead to skyrocketing addiction in California.”

    Newsom differs from several prominent fellow Democrats such as Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who oppose legalization. Attorney General Kamala Harris has said California should wait and learn from Colorado and Washington, while her Republican challenger, Ron Gold, is more forthright in his support of legalization.

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    CA17: Honda launches attack ad against Khanna

    By Josh Richman
    Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 9:09 am in Mike Honda, U.S. House

    Rep. Mike Honda rolled out a new television ad Monday attacking Democratic challenger Ro Khanna for having right-wing billionaires support his campaign, for favoring tax breaks for the rich and companies that offshore jobs, and for not being committed to protecting Social Security.

    But Khanna’s campaign says Honda, D-San Jose, is making up many of the ad’s charges.

    Honda’s campaign says this six-figure ad buy comes after Khanna’s campaign has been on the attack for weeks, including a recent mailer attacking Honda by calling him a “liberal Democrat.”

    “After losing the primary by 20 points, Khanna’s entire campaign has been about attacking Congressman Honda, and today we’re hitting back,” Honda campaign manager Doug Greven said in a news release. “Voters need to know that Khanna is more concerned with representing his wealthy right-wing donors than the people who are working hard in this district to get by.”

    Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said the ad is flat-out wrong.

    “It’s a shame that after 14 lackluster years in office, Congressman Honda is resorting to false attacks and a ‘guilt-by-association’ strategy that ignores the facts,” Law said. “More than ever, this race is a clear choice between an old school politician with one of the poorest records in Congress and a new leader with a clear vision for creating good-paying jobs, fostering innovation, and preparing our children for success in life.”

    Khanna sent an email to his supporters Monday morning calling the ad “full of lies” and saying that while his campaign does “not have the money for television, we will respond in the press, in mailers and on the ground.” Reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission showed Honda still had close to $1 million banked for his campaign as of Sept. 30 while Khanna’s campaign was running dangerously low – a tremendous reversal of fortune, given that Khanna had vastly more money for the campaign’s first year but spent most of it before June’s primary.

    “My hope is that voters in Silicon Valley will see through this kind of politics,” Khanna wrote. “My hope is they will choose intellectually honest positions over distortion.”

    Let’s examine the ad point by point, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Nancy Pelosi lays bet on Giants in World Series

    By Josh Richman
    Friday, October 17th, 2014 at 11:27 am in Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House

    House Minority Leader Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver have laid their bet on the upcoming World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals – and it sounds delicious.

    Gates BBQ ribsIf the Royals win, Pelosi, D-San Francisco, will provide the Kansas City congressman with a basket of her city’s finest chocolates. (Ghirardelli? Recchiuti? Poco Dolce?) If the Giants win, Cleaver will send Pelosi a President’s BBQ Platter from Kansas City’s Gates BBQ.

    (Ed. Note: I LOVE Gates BBQ.)

    “There are many savory delights that Kansas City has to offer and I can’t wait to savor them, but nothing would be sweeter than a Giants victory,” Pelosi said. “The Royals are a fine team, but they are no match for the talent, toughness, and heart of our Giants. I look forward to enjoying the Giants’ latest championship with some fine Kansas City BBQ.”

    Cleaver replied the Giants “are a worthy team, but they underestimate the Kansas City Royals at their peril.”

    “With their spirit, their skill, and their sweeping victory in the ALCS, the Royals will surely succeed in the World Series,” he said. “I don’t usually gamble, but I will make an exception and wager some of the finest barbecue Kansas City, Missouri has to offer. Victory shall be sweet indeed.”

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    Rounding up the AD16 and AD15 drama

    By Josh Richman
    Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 5:38 pm in 2014 general, Assembly

    There are all kinds of drama popping up in the East Bay’s hottest Assembly races.

    In the 16th Assembly District, it’s a tale of dueling endorsements. Steve Glazer, the Orinda Democrat and former Jerry Brown political advisor who lost in June’s primary, essentially endorsed Republican Catharine Baker in a Facebook post Wednesday.

    Nobody thought there was any love lost between Glazer and the Democrat in this general-election race, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, given the scorched-earth campaigns they ran against each other this past spring. But some thought Glazer might’ve kept quiet, even having already burned his bridges to the Democratic party and the unions that are its biggest backers.

    Meanwhile, Sbranti on Wednesday rolled out Gov. Jerry Brown’s endorsement – not a shocker, but certainly an effort to jump on the chief executive’s coattails as he coasts into a fourth term.

    Over in the 15th Assembly District, Democrat Tony Thurmond of Richmond launched his first television ad Thursday, touting his accomplishments and endorsements:

    But his rival, fellow Democrat Elizabeth Echols, is calling attention to the independent spending that’s being done on Thurmond’s behalf – which now tops $255,000 worth of research, polling, mailers and field expenses in the last few weeks.

    “The California Independent Petroleum Association has now put $450,000 into two groups working to defeat my campaign,” Echols wrote in an email to supporters Thursday. “They are the driving force in the effort to expand fracking in California. One has to ask why they have chosen to get involved in my race, given the progressive tradition of our district. Luckily, their involvement has only motivated my supporters.”

    The email went on to invite supporters to a fundraiser she’s holding October 28 at the Sierra Club’s office in Berkeley, co-sponsored by the Sierra Club, the California League of Conservation Voters, state Sen. Loni Hancock and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner.

    Thurmond has a fundraiser scheduled for this Sunday, Oct. 19 – at the Oakland Raiders-Arizona Cardinals game. A $2,500 contribution buys a luxury suite ticket, food and drinks; a $4,100 contribution gets two tickets.

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