CD10: DeSaulnier asked to remove Tauscher name

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier

Undersecretary Ellen Tauscher

Undersecretary Ellen Tauscher

UPDATED 8:10 P.M. See DeSaulnier campaign manager Katie Merrill’s response below.

The U.S. State Department has asked 10th District Congressional candidate and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier to remove all references in his campaign materials to his endorsement from former congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who is now undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. State Department.

While a legal adviser to the U.S. State Department concludes that the endorsement broke no laws or policies, “Under Secretary Tauscher is committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct. To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, on behalf of Undersecretary Tauscher, I have asked Senator DeSaulnier to remove all references in his campaign material of any endorsement she may have made,” wrote James Thessin, deputy legal adviser and designed agency ethics official.

DeSaulnier campaign manager Katie Merrill said a few minutes ago that she had not seen the letter nor was she aware of the request but would get back to me tonight issued this statement:

“Former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher endorsed Mark DeSaulnier for Congress in March.  Mark and the Congresswoman have worked together on many issues of importance to this district, and he is proud to have her sole endorsement.

The Garamendi campaign filed this frivolous complaint out of  “sour grapes” because he asked for Congresswoman Tauscher’s endorsement and did not get it.

We said the complaint was frivolous at the time, and the State Dept. in this letter has confirmed that.

John Garamendi knows that his chances of winning this race are dwindling daily because he has little local support, few local endorsements, and doesn’t even live in the district.  So he has resorted to negative tactics like filing frivolous complaints and wasting valuable resources of the U.S. State Department that I would imagine could go to far better use than this.

I expect we will see more negative tactics and gamesmanship from the Garamendi campaign in the next 4 weeks.  It is how he has run his past campaigns, and that is unfortunate.

As for the request by the State Dept., the ballot pamphlets with Congresswoman Tauscher’s endorsement are printed, the TV ad on health care reform is running, and our brochures with her endorsement were produced months ago.  As for the things we can change, we have a number of questions for the State Dept. about what qualifies and what doesn’t under their request.  We will be in contact with them next week to get further clarification.”

It’s clear from the letter, though, that no laws were broken and DeSaulnier is under no legal obligation to cease his use of her endorsement, which is arguably one of DeSaulnier’s most valuable.

Tauscher endorsed DeSaulnier shortly after her name publicly surfaced as nominee to the State Department post. She has not participated in any campaign activities for DeSaulnier since she was formally nominated.

The letter I quoted was sent July 29 to Jason Bezis of Lafayette, who filed a complaint with the State Department about DeSaulnier’s use of Tauscher’s endorsement in his campaign materials.

Read on for the full text of the letter: Continue Reading


Antioch official blasts DeSaulnier, strips endorsement

Antioch Councilman Brian Kalinowski

Antioch Councilman Brian Kalinowski

Antioch Councilman Brian Kalinowski delivered a scathing indictment of state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson in the moments following city’s vote Tuesday night to cut another $500,000 from its budget. The cuts were necessary after the Legislature swiped local government dollars to close its own gaping budget deficit.

Click here to watch Kalinowski’s statements on the city’s website by scrolling to 2:50:54 into the meeting.)

But here’s a portion of Kalinowski’s statement:

“Some of our elected voted no on certain piecemeal items to (express) their dissatisfaction with certain actions. But true leadership come in the form of civil disobedience to the point where you ensure that a budget that is flawed from day one doesn’t go forward …

This staff, on the backs of the employees and to the detriment of the citizens it serves, addressed the (city’s) budget shortfall to the tune of $500,000 while our friends — or people we thought were our friends — voted us down the river and did us no favors …
I am livid at Sen. DeSaulnier, whom I pulled my support from for Congress, and Assemblyman Torlakson, who has been absent in his representation of this city … and that is where it stops. If that puts me on the outside of partisan politics, so be it. But at the end of day with an heavy heart, we continue to dismiss employees in this city and do a disservice to the residents of this community. It’s time for Sacramento to stand up and grow up.”

On the 28 30 budget bills up for a vote in the Senate on July 24, DeSaulnier voted no on 11 12 and yes on the other 1718. In the Assembly, Torlakson supported 22 of the 25 budget bills he voted on. (As a congressional candidate, DeSaulnier was clearly given more latitude to vote no at a time when Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg desperately needed support in order to pass a state budget.)

Is this the unofficial start of Kalinowski’s run for the Legislature? Could be. He has often expressed interest in running for the Assembly.


Rebecca Kaplan gets biblical on Schwarzenegger

Oakland City Council member Rebecca Kaplan went all Old Testament on the governator today during a rally to tout a “People’s Budget Fix” of criminal justice reforms.

“There are lies being told in Sacramento,” she said – specifically, the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s assertion that most Californians desire an budget solution based on nothing but cuts “until everyone is bleeding.”

Oakland residents just last week overwhelmingly approved a package of tax measures to help the cash-strapped city lessen the blow to crucial local services, she noted.

Then she whipped out a Bible to share what she described as some of her favorite scripture, wherein Isaiah says praying and fasting aren’t enough, and you’ve got to help those less fortunate than you if you want to please the Lord:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

“ Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

(That’s Isaiah 58:6-7, by the way.)

Afterward, Kaplan, 38, who just won election to the city council in November, showed me that it was her own bat mitzvah Bible from which she was reading. “I carry it all the time now,” she said.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear later today said this budget “contains the largest tax increase in the history of the state, enacted in February. Voters overwhelmingly rejected further tax increases to fix the budget in May. Like every business and family in California, the state must live within its means.”

Mark Leno enters national health care fray

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is rubbing elbows with members of Congress in Washington, D.C., today for events to promote single-payer universal health care.

Leno – author of the California Universal Health Care Act, SB 810 – is about to join Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., to speak at a “Medicare: Made in America,” rally in support of Conyers’ HR 676, which creates a Medicare-for-all-style health care system. Afterward, he’ll be meeting with House and Senate members and staffers in support of a single-payer system.

“Our health care system is a failed experiment,” Leno said in a news release. “We don’t even have a health care system in this country, we have a risk management system, and the risk being managed is not the health of you and your family, it’s the profit margin of the insurance industry. People are realizing that insurance companies don’t provide health care – they ration it based on who can pay the most. A single payer system would put doctors and patients back in charge of health care decisions and is proven to save billions a year in wasteful administration. We need to build on systems, like Medicare, that we know will work.”

Later yet this afternoon, Leno will join Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, at a Congressional briefing on state-based single payer initiatives sponsored by the California Nurses, to talk about successes and setbacks in California’s own health-care reform efforts.

“California made history by passing a Medicare for all style health care plan – twice – only to have it thwarted by the Governor,” Leno said. “The single payer movement in California continues to grow quickly in every county of the state and our success has inspired other state legislatures. We won’t stop pushing until every American has access to health care.”


Pete Stark’s interactive stimulus spending map

Lots of lawmakers are quick to note the appropriations they’ve brought home to the district, especially those that come under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) economic stimulus effort. But the office of Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, has come up with a clearer, more interactive way of seeing the impacts in his 13th Congressional District: A tagged Google Map with clickable icons explaining each appropriation.

If you click through to a larger version of the map, there’s a scrollable list as well.