Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for August, 2009

FPPC: Swanson is area’s most active fundraiser

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission issued a news release Tuesday saying state lawmakers so far had held more than 250 political fundraisers in Sacramento during 2009, according to information the FPPC culled from items listed in the Daily Bread section of the Capitol Morning Report.

“If a deep-pocket interest provided the maximum solicited contribution to every one of these fundraisers, they would have spent as much as $1,014,270 to attend the events,” FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson said in the release. “And this list does not include any district fundraising events or golf tournaments held by incumbent legislators.”

Most of the events were for 2010 elections but a significant number were for 2012 or 2014 races, he noted. “This trend of seeing contributions made for elections years in the future allows incumbent officeholders to enjoy a tremendous advantage by continually maintaining sizeable war chests — scaring off potential opponents.”

But the spreadsheet accompanying the release didn’t have the incumbents’ names, just the type of accounts for which they were raising money, and the event’s type, date and maximum solicited contribution. So I filed a Public Records Act request for an unredacted spreadsheet including the incumbents’ names, and I received it today.

It shows that, of all the lawmakers in the Bay Area, Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, seems to have kept up the most aggressive fundraising schedule since Jan. 1, all for his 2010 Assembly re-election campaign. He held a Jan. 27 reception asking up to $3,900 a head; a Feb. 26 breakfast asking up to $1,900 a head; a March 16 breakfast asking up to $3,900 a head; an April 24 Pebble Beach golf fundraiser asking up to $3,900 a head; and a June 17th reception asking up to $3,900 a head.

Actually, I think the FPPC might’ve missed a few; I see Swanson held a May 5 luncheon asking $1,000 a head. And perhaps his most ambitious event is yet to come: his annual, two-day “East Coast/West Coast Golf Challenge,” scheduled for Sept. 4-5 at the Paiute Golf Resort in Las Vegas for up to $3,900 a head. Swanson is expecting as many as 70 participants from Washington, D.C. and all over California.

Swanson’s midyear campaign finance report shows he started 2009 with $8,657.79 in his campaign account, and raised $267,594.57 and spent $113,448.32 in the year’s first six months, leaving him with $164,809.49 cash on hand and $19,056.61 in unpaid debts as of June 30.

Swanson in November was re-elected to his 16th Assembly District seat with 87.9 percent of the vote, and 65.5 percent of his district’s registered voters are Democrats compared to 8.3 percent who are Republicans. It’s not as if he’s likely to face a strong challenge in 2010.

He readily acknowledged that when we spoke this afternoon: Although no incumbent should ever take anything for granted, he said, much of the money he spends so much time raising isn’t actually used for his re-election campaign.

“With the state cutbacks, they allow us to use our campaign accounts … to supplement our office budget for supplies and other kinds of things,” he said. “We also use it to contribute to community based organizations – like, for instance, I gave $1,500 to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce event that they did this year to help with their scholarships and community activities.”

Swanson also said he said he wants a big war chest on hand to combat ballot measures he finds objectionable. Next year will see a measure that would create an open-primary election system that Swanson said “challenges the core of democracy,” and there’s talk of measures that would cut the Legislature back to part-time and deny benefits to elected office holders; he’ll spend against all of ‘em, he said.

Of course, that’s not all he spends it on. I dinged him last November for 2007-08 cycle spending that included 128 “meetings and appearances” tabs at East Bay and Sacramento restaurants totaling $7,956.26. A glance at his spending in the first half of this year, though, seems to show less of that sort of thing.

See all the Bay Area lawmakers’ 2009 Sacramento fundraisers as listed by the FPPC, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2009
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, campaign finance, General, Sandre Swanson | 1 Comment »

CD10: On carpetbagging, boating and podcasting

Here are some bits and pieces from the trail of the 10th Congressional District campaign that caught my attention:


A couple of progressive bloggers post some interesting views on the money in the CD10 race:


State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier puts out today a second smack mailer (see below) about rival and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi. Titled “CarpetBaggers Gazette,” the DeSaulnier campaign continues to hit on the theme that Garamendi chose the easy path when he ran for the open 10th District seat rather than run in his home district against Republican incumbent Dan Lungren.

DeSaulnier hopes the remaining undecided voters who actually decide to vote will see this stuff and cast a nod in his direction.

Garamendi, who was 10 points ahead in the last two polls, is pretty much ignoring the whole thing.

“John is running a positive campaign talking about his accomplishments and what he has done in public service career. And we are doing well, so there’s no reason to switch strategy,” said Garamendi campaign spokesman Gary Gartner.


Garamendi has a hip and happening technology team. He has been putting out podcasts on various issues.

Check out his education podcast here:

The campaign previously released podcasts on Garamendi’s early career, the importance of Travis Air Force Base, and veterans issues.


KTVU television political editor Randy Shandobil is one of my favorite reporters and here is another reason why. You gotta see his story on the CD10 race and his very funny report from what appears to be a seat in a small boat as he floats in the middle of the Sacramento River.


Someone has time on his or her hands. Check out this mystery video. Here is a easy clue: It was not created by a fan of Garamendi.


Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | 12 Comments »

Republican praise for Ted Kennedy

I’ve received several dozen e-mailed statements from elected officials, advocacy groups, candidates and pretty much everyone else you can imagine regarding the death of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. We’ll be carrying an article of reactions in tomorrow’s editions, but for now I thought I’d take a different tack and present here some of the statements issued by Republicans about the death of this liberal icon.

From Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“Maria and I are immensely saddened by the passing of Uncle Teddy. He was known to the world as the Lion of the Senate, a champion of social justice, and a political icon.

“Most importantly, he was the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He was a man of great faith and character.

“Teddy inspired our country through his dedication to health care reform, his commitment to social justice, and his devotion to a life of public service.

“I have personally benefitted and grown from his experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well.

“Teddy taught us all that public service isn’t a hobby or even an occupation, but a way of life and his legacy will live on.”

From gubernatorial candidate and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner:

“I wish to extend my greatest sympathies to First Lady Maria Shriver and Governor Schwarzenegger on the passing of Senator Kennedy. The Senator’s commitment to public service will long be remembered. My thoughts and prayers are with both the Kennedy and Shriver families as this loss comes so close to the passing of Eunice Shriver. My heart goes out to all family and friends in this time of mourning.”

From House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“The people of Massachusetts and the United States Congress have lost a tireless public servant.

“Ted Kennedy was my friend. While there were few political issues on which he and I agreed, our relationship was never disagreeable, and was always marked by good humor, hard work, and a desire to find common ground.

“Ted Kennedy was also a friend to inner-city children and teachers. For the better part of the last decade, Ted and I worked together to support struggling Catholic grade schools in inner-city Washington. By helping these schools keep their doors open and helping them retain their committed teachers and faculty, this joint effort made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of inner-city children, who otherwise would have been denied the opportunity for a quality education. It wouldn’t have been possible without Senator Kennedy and his genuine desire to give something back to help inner-city students in the city in which he’d served for so many years. I’m proud to have worked with Senator Kennedy on this project, and I will dearly miss his friendship and his partnership in this cause.

“Debbie and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Vicki and the entire Kennedy family at this difficult time.”

And, from U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

Posted on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
Under: Edward Kennedy, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

Al Gore does not approve

As referenced in today’s article, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer visited Kaiser Permanente’s new Oakland medical building today for a demonstration of Kaiser’s electronic medical record system, a roundtable meeting with Kaiser staff and a news conference.

Boxer listened intently as Dr. Patricia Conolly, an internal medicine specialist, walked her through the medical record system, which Kaiser began phasing in in 2005; Conolly said it has made it easier for her and other Kaiser physicians to track and improve patient care while lowering costs. Everything from a patient’s complete medical history, including all previous Kaiser visits, to tools for diagnosis and prescription are available at the touch of a button by the patient’s bedside, Conolly said.

“Wow,” Boxer marveled, “did you invent this?”

“No,” Conolly replied as Kaiser staffers chuckled.

“Did Al Gore?” Boxer quipped.

Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
Under: Al Gore, Barbara Boxer, healthcare reform, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

Maybe we can all sell some plasma, or something

This just in from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office:

Following through on his promise to eliminate waste in state government, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced that the Department of General Services has posted several surplus items – some signed by the Governor – for sale on eBay and Craigslist in preparation for the Great California Garage Sale.

“By posting items online, Californians and people from other states and around the world can participate in the Great California Garage Sale,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This is a win-win for the state and for shoppers. Together we are eliminating waste and providing great deals in this tough economy. I encourage everyone to log on or attend this great event.”

In anticipation of the Great California Garage Sale, the Governor announced last month via Twitter that he would listen to public feedback and put several items up for sale on eBay and Craigslist. Items posted include 10 to 15 vehicles with visors that have been signed by the Governor. These items are a snapshot of the wide variety of inventory that can be found at the Great California Garage Sale which will include computers, desks and office supplies. The Garage Sale will also include unclaimed and confiscated items such as jewelry, a specialized racing bike, surfboard and an antique piano.

“The Great California Garage Sale is not just for Californians,” said State and Consumer Services Secretary Fred Aguiar. “We want everyone to be able to have the opportunity to purchase unique state property and Craigslist and eBay are going to help us do just that.”

The Great California Garage Sale will be held August 28th and 29th at the Department of General Services’ Surplus Property Warehouse in Sacramento where thousands of Californians are expected to shop for surplus state property.

This news release comes one day after the state Department of Finance released projections showing the state’s operating deficits will balloon again in the next few fiscal years – to $4.958 billion in 2009-2010, $7.419 billion in 2010-11, $15.467 billion in $15.467 billion in 2011-12 and $15.097 billion in 2012-13 – due to the governor’s and Legislature’s utter failure to deal with California’s structural deficit.

Hmmm – I doubt the garage sale will cover that. Maybe a bake sale? I’ll bet Gov. Schwarzenegger – though clearly unwilling to recognize California doesn’t have enough steady revenue to pay for an appropriate level of state services – bakes a mean toll-house cookie.

Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, state budget | 4 Comments »

California GOP joins national campaign finance lawsuit

California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring is headed to Washington, D.C., where he will join colleagues from the Republican National Committee at a U.S. District Court Thursday hearing on a lawsuit challenging the legality of federal limits on corporate contributions to political parties and campaigns. (I blogged about this lawsuit a few days ago.)

The RNC, California GOP and the San Diego Republican Party are the plaintiffs in the case.

If the Republicans are ultimately successful, it could allow corporate dollars to again flow directly into political parties rather than through political action committees or 527s.

I am also curious to know if a ruling in the GOP’s favor would impact labor unions’ status with respect to federal campaigns. They are treated much like businesses and can contribute only to PACs, which are subject to limits of $5,000 per campaign.

Read on for the California GOP’s press release:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2009
Under: campaign finance, Republican Party | No Comments »

CD10: Sept. 1 election nuts and bolts

The Contra County elections office put out this important notice about the Sept. 1 special election:

All polling places for the September 1, 2009 10th Congressional Special Primary Election will open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m.  Voters are encouraged to pre-mark their choices in their sample ballot and to take it with them to use as a reference when going to the polls.  To avoid lines, voters are advised to vote mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Polling place locations and directional maps are available on the Contra Costa County Election’s Office web site at:  Information regarding the voter’s sample ballot and information about candidates is also available at

City Clerks have volunteered to assist voters who may need the location of their polling place.  They will be available for assistance on Monday, August 31 and Tuesday, Election Day, September 1.  If voters are unsure of where they need to go to vote, they may contact any of the following agencies until the polls close at 8:00 p.m.  Some cities will be available for abbreviated time periods as stated below.

County Elections Office                                    (925) 335-7800

City of Antioch                                     (925) 779-7009

City of Brentwood                                            (925) 516-5400

City of Clayton                                     (925) 673-7300

City of Concord                                               (925) 671-3430

Town of Danville                                              (925) 314-3401

City of El Cerrito                                              (510) 215-4305     8/31 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., 9/1 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

City of Lafayette                                               (925) 284-1968

Town of Moraga                                              (925) 888-7022

City of Oakley                                                  (925) 625-7000     8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days

City of Orinda                                                  (925) 253-4221     8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days

City of Pittsburg                                                (925) 252-4850

City of Pleasant Hill                                          (925) 671-5270

City of Richmond                                              (510) 620-6513

City of San Ramon                                           (925) 973-2539

City of Walnut Creek                                        (925) 943-5818

Local election results will be available election night beginning at 8:00 p.m. on the Contra Costa County Elections Office web site at and on Contra Costa Television (CCTV) beginning at 9:00 p.m. on Comcast channel 27, Astound channel 32 and AT&T U-Verse channel 99.  District wide results will be available on the Secretary of State’s website at

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | No Comments »

CD10: DeSaulnier follows ad with smack mailer

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier hopes his new mailer (see images below) chock full of smack about 10th Congressional District rival and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi will win some votes. DeSaulnier has gone on the attack this week against the lieutenant governor, who has posted 10-point leads in recent polls.

The mailer describes how Garamendi rejected requests that he run in District 3 — where he actually lives — against Republican Rep. Dan Lungren. The ad says:”Lungren is the number one target of the Democratic Party. But when Garamendi was asked to take him on, he chose to fight other Democrats instead.”

Granted, Garamendi clearly chose the easier of the two paths. Running for an open seat in a heavily Democratic district is far more attractive option than against an inumbent in a Republican-leaning district.

And Garamendi was worried about how this issue would play among Democrats. He asked voters about it in his recent poll. In a low turnout election where voters are more likely to be party loyalists who pay attention to this kind of stuff, it might matter.

I guess we’ll find out on Sept. 1.

Here is the mailer:

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | 20 Comments »

State GOP, gubernatorial candidates rake in bucks

The California Republican Party saw an influx of big-time corporate bucks yesterday, with notable contributions including $100,000 from Walmart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, Ark.; $100,000 from Chevron Corp. of San Ramon; $25,000 from AT&T Inc. and its affiliates in San Francisco; $25,000 from the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians in Temecula; $20,000 from Occidental Petroleum of Los Angeles; $15,000 from the California Association of Health Facilities PAC in Sacramento; and $12,500 from The Hartford of Hartford, Conn.

Other sizeable contributions this week included $25,000 yesterday from Rancho Santa Fe homemaker Katherine Lukianov to Republican Steve Poizner’s gubernatorial campaign; $20,000 yesterday from billionaire heir and venture capitalist John Pritzker of San Francisco plus $18,650 from his wife, Lisa Pritzker, to Democrat Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign; and $15,900 on Tuesday from Chicago media mogul Newsweb Corp. owner Fred Eychaner to Newsom’s campaign.

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009
Under: 2010 governor's race, campaign finance, Republican Party | Comments Off on State GOP, gubernatorial candidates rake in bucks

Alameda County GOP spat hits Court of Appeal

Members of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee will be arguing against each other this afternoon in the First District California Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

County committee member and former chairman Paul Cummings Jr. of Oakland is appealing an Alameda County Superior Court judge’s decision to throw out his case contesting the election of several other county committee members in June 2008.

Cummings has claimed committee vice chairman Walter Stanley III of Livermore and six other “Constitutional Republicans” were ineligible for election to the committee because they hadn’t been affiliated with the Republican Party for at least three months before their candidacy filing dates, and/or because they’d belonged to other parties within a year before filing, in violation of the state Elections Code.

But that’s not actually what this appeal is about. The Superior Court judge tossed the case, ruling Cummings hadn’t filed it within the five-day period required after a primary election; Cummings argues that this wasn’t a primary, as there’s only one election for party committee posts, and wants the appeals court to reinstate the case and order the county court to review it on its merits. The California Republican Party has filed an amicus brief on Cummings’ behalf.

Besides Stanley, the other defendants in this case are committee members Casey Fargo and his wife Lea Smart of Livermore; David Latour of Hayward; Deslar Patten of Hayward; Christopher Kuhn of Hayward; and John Bartlett of Livermore. All of seven are affiliated with the Republican Liberty Caucus, a libertarian-leaning group often associated with former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. Fargo also is a former president of the Golden Gate Minutemen, an anti-illegal-immigration activist group, and Latour is a former president of the Castro Valley Minutemen.

Stanley et al – represented by attorney and fellow GOP committee member Jerry Salcido, who just a few weeks ago was elected the committee’s chairman – argue not only that it was a primary and Cummings sued too late, but also that the courts don’t have jurisdiction to police party committee elections.

I’ll be watching for the appellate court’s ruling over the next few months, and will report it here.

(UPDATE @ 10:10 A.M. WEDNESDAY 9/9: Cummings wins this round.)

To put this battle in context, 15.13 percent of Alameda County’s registered voters were Republicans as of May 4, while 57.82 percent were Democrats and 22.48 percent declined to state a party affiliation. The county GOP’s registration has slid by almost four percentage points over the past five years (data after the jump).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009
Under: 2008 June primary, Alameda County, General, Republican Party, Republican politics | 6 Comments »