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Archive for January, 2012

Fundraising, voter reg look good for McNerney

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton – who’s running in the newly drawn 9th Congressional Districtraised $250,974 and spent $86,847.58 in the fourth quarter, finishing 2011 with $780,339.54 cash on hand and no debts.

Republican challenger Ricky Gill, 24, of Lodi – whom the National Republican Congressional Committee in August named a “Young Gun” for his aggressive organizing and fundraising – had gotten off to a hot start last year, raising more than $429,030 in the second quarter and more than $225,000 in the third quarter.

But Gill’s pace continued to slow in the fourth quarter: He raised a net of $124,188.65, loaned his campaign another $67,460.97 (bringing his self-financing total so far to almost $143,000), and spent a net of $1,910.14. He finished 2011 with $837,617.67 cash on hand but $142,839.73 in outstanding debts – a net bankroll of $694,777.94.

And new voter registration data released today by the Secretary of State’s office shows the new 9th District is 44.6 percent Democrat to 35.8 percent Republican; that’s an edge McNerney didn’t have in 2010 when seeking re-election in his old 11th Congressional District, which was 39.3 percent Republican to 39.0 percent Democrat.

Is the Young Gun getting outgunned?

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, campaign finance, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House, voter registration | 4 Comments »

Dems and DTS gain, GOP loses voter registration

California’s Democratic and nonpartisan voter registration have increased from the last presidential election cycle to now, while Republican registration has fallen, according to the new report from Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office.

The report shows that the 3.6 million voters who express no party preference now account for 21.2 percent of the state’s electorate, “a new all-time high” up from 19.4 percent (3 million voters) in January 2008, Bowen said.

The state’s 7.4 million registered Democrats – up from 6.6 million four years ago – now account for 43.6 percent of registered voters, up from 42.7 percent four years ago. Republican registration has dropped from 33.5 percent (5,197,897 voters) in January 2008 to 30.4 percent (5,170,592 voters) now.

“Republicans in California are a half percentage point away from an endangered species designation,” California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said this afternoon. “Year after year voters see the GOP shrink away from their responsibilities and abdicate leadership on the tough issues facing our state. The numbers come as no surprise.”

California Republican Party spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns argued that while Golden State voters aren’t self-identifying as Republican, they’re voting like Republicans on the issues.

“Despite the increased numbers of decline-to-state voters, the fact is that Californians have voted our way on ballot initiatives, including overwhelmingly rejecting the last eight tax increases on the ballot,” she said via e-mail this afternoon. “The Republican Party has more work to do to communicate that THOSE principles are OUR principles, and we need to connect those dots for the voters. But the fact that voters are voting the way they do on those ballot measures indicates that they actually agree more with Republican principles of fiscal conservatism, smaller government, and less bureaucracy.”

California law requires statewide voter registration data updates 154, 60 and 15 days before each primary election, and 60 and 15 days before each general election. One “off-year” update is released in February of years with no regularly scheduled statewide election.

California’s new top-two primary system – in which the top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election, regardless of what parties they belong to – applies to statewide offices, state legislative offices and House and U.S. Senate offices, but does not apply to the presidential election, county party committees or local offices. Only the Democratic and American Independent parties are letting no-party-preference independents vote in their presidential primaries.

The last day to register to vote in the June 5 primary election is May 21; the last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot is May 29.

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Under: Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Republican Party, Republican politics, voter registration | 4 Comments »

New 15th House District fundraising reports

I’d reported here weeks ago that former Obama Administration Ro Khanna of Fremont raised an eye-popping $1.2 million in the last quarter of 2011, his first quarter of raising money to run for the 15th Congressional District seat – even though he says he won’t challenge incumbent fellow Democrat Rep. Pete Stark and so probably won’t run until 2014.

Today was the deadline for filing year-end campaign finance reports, so now we can see how others in that district did.

Stark’s campaign raised $88,156 and spent $52,803.50 in the fourth quarter, finishing 2011 with $579,826.10 cash on hand and no debts.

Alameda County prosecutor and Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell – another Democrat who hopes the newly drawn district’s lines and the top-two primary system can make him into a giant-killer – raised $65,357.36 and spent $44,410.41 in the fourth quarter, finishing 2011 with $89,072.87 cash on hand and no debts.

And state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, who hasn’t committed to whether she’s running this year or not, raised $161,835 and spent $14,116.55 in the fourth quarter, finishing 2011 with $147,718.45 cash on hand and $22,714.56 in debts – a net bankroll of $125,003.89.

Republican Independent Chris Pareja of Hayward – who ran against Stark in 2010 as a write-in, backed by some Tea Party elements who felt Republican nominee Forest Baker wasn’t conservative enough – told me this afternoon that his campaign has been “in exploratory mode,” has not yet passed the $5,000 threshold that triggers the need for a quarterly report, and won’t start fundraising in earnest until February.

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, campaign finance, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Emken names team to bankroll her run vs. DiFi

Republican candidate Elizabeth Emken of Danville today rolled out the finance committee members she hopes will help her raise the wherewithal to take on U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein this year.

“Last week, Elizabeth kicked off her campaign and received very enthusiastic support from around California. Since then, we’ve put together some of the state’s most successful Republican fundraising professionals to form her finance team,” Emken campaign manager Jeff Corless said in a news release. “Feinstein’s weakness has landed her on the national target list, and Elizabeth Emken’s finance team shows we’re very serious about raising the funding needed to contest this seat. We’re looking forward to a vigorous campaign in the coming months.”

Here’s the team:

    Joanne Davis, finance director – Davis most recently served as chief financial officer for Carly Fiorina’s unsuccessful bid to unseat Barbara Boxer in 2010; earlier, she raised tens of millions for candidates and causes including President George W. Bush, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, the Republican National Committee, the California Republican Party, gubernatorial candidates Bill Simon and Richard Riordan, then-Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
    Charissa Abbay-Gonzales, Los Angeles/Central Coast regional finance director – Abbay-Gonzales is president of On Target Fundraising and Events, with past clients including the gubernatorial campaigns of Meg Whitman, Richard Riordan and Bill Simon.
    Jennifer Fitzgerald, Orange County regional finance director – Fitzgerald is the founder and CEO of CL7 Communications, Inc., a political communications and fundraising firm, with past clients including Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. John Campbell, Rep. Ed Royce and the California Women’s Leadership Association.
    Jean Freelove, San Diego regional finance director – Freelove has been San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders’ fundraising adviser for seven years and also has raised money for various state lawmakers, city councilmembers and county supervisors. She was part of Carly Fiorina’s 2010 U.S. Senate campaign and now assists the National Republican Senatorial Committee and House Speaker John Boehner with San Diego-area fundraising.

I haven’t yet seen Emken’s year-end FEC report, for which the filing deadline is later today, but her camp advises me not to expect much because she was in exploratory mode until just last week; today’s finance-team rollout marks the start of her concerted fundraising effort. Then again, Emken already had formed a campaign committee, hired staffers and launched a website at the end of November, writing on the GOP information clearinghouse FlashReport.org that she’s “running for U.S. Senate because my children need me to.”

Spokesman Tim Clark told me in November that Emken – who lost $200,000 of her own money on her June 2010 House GOP primary bid, in which she finished fourth in a field of four – isn’t planning to self-finance this campaign. Since then, Mark Standriff – formerly the state GOP’s spokesman – has taken over Emken’s campaign communications.

Emken isn’t the only Republican candidate in the race: Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez rolled out his exploratory committee just last week. Ramirez got about 2 percent of the vote in the 2010 GOP primary seeking the nomination to unseat Boxer – a very distant fourth behind Carly Fiorina, Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore – but told the Los Angeles Times last week that he now has more experience and better relationships with state party leaders.

Feinstein, 78, won a 1992 special election to the U.S. Senate and then was re-elected in 1994, 2000 and 2006, but her poll numbers portend a somewhat tougher fight in 2012. And although Feinstein’s campaign reported a $9.2 million bankroll as of Sept. 30, some or even most of that money may have been embezzled by Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee, who was arrested in September by the FBI.

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election, campaign finance, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Pete Stark jabs at Gingrich with ‘NEWT Act’

Rep. Pete Stark gave Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich a political poke in the eye today by introducing a bill to close a loophole that lets certain self-employed people – including lobbyists – lower their Medicare payroll tax liability by calling their earnings profits or dividends rather than wages.

Pete StarkStark, D-Fremont – the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, which oversees Medicare – calls it the Narrowing Exceptions for Withholding Taxes Act.

Yes, that’s right: The NEWT Act.

The bill, Stark says, was inspired by Gingrich’s recently released 2010 tax returns, which showed he used the loophole to save an estimated $69,000 in Medicare taxes.

“It seems Gingrich is continuing to do his part — in his own infamous words — to let Medicare ‘wither on the vine.’” Stark said in a news release. “By taking full advantage of a tax loophole often used by wealthy self-employed lawyers and lobbyists to slash their tax liability, Gingrich is happy to undermine Medicare. This tax dodge throws cold water on his feigned concern for the future of Medicare.”

This provision passed the House of Representatives in 2009 as part of HR 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010; at the time, the Joint Commission on Taxation estimated that closing this loophole would save taxpayers $11.2 billion over ten years.

Newt GingrichAll earners are subject to a 2.9 percent tax on wages, which helps fund Medicare, but employee-shareholders at S corporations can use an existing loophole to shield earnings from the Medicare tax by classifying them as profits or dividends instead of as wages. For 2010, Gingrich reported $444,327 of his earnings as wages from Gingrich Holdings, Inc. and Gingrich Productions. By classifying another $2.4 million in profits or dividends he avoided paying an estimated $69,000 in Medicare taxes.

Stark’s NEWT Act would expand the income categories that are subject to Medicare payroll taxes so employee-shareholders of S corporations could no longer avoid paying this tax by reporting artificially low wage income and correspondingly higher dividends or profits. Certain employee-shareholders of S corporations would have to calculate their Medicare payroll tax obligation based on their share of the S corporation’s profits or dividends, not just income reported as wages. The individuals subject to the provision are the employee-shareholders of a professional service business where the principal assets of that business are the skills and reputations of three or fewer individuals.

The bill targets the S corporations that have been identified as the most likely to abuse the system, Stark said: professional service businesses engaged in health, lobbying, law, engineering, architecture, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, brokerage services, or investment advice or management.

The Government Accountability Office estimates that in the 2003 and 2004 tax years, individuals who used S corporations underreported more than $23 billion in wage income; the median misreported amount was $20,127.

Stark’s news release cited a New York Times article to illustrate that it’s a bipartisan problem: Former U.S. Senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards used the same method to avoid $591,112 in Medicare payroll taxes over four years in the late 1990s.

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Pete Stark, taxes, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

Fremont teen questions President Obama

My colleague Rob Dennis is writing the story on a student from Fremont’s Kennedy High School who took some time out from his advanced-placement government class today to pose a few questions to the leader of the free world.

Adam Clark, backed by some of his classmates and his teacher, Olivia Santillan, took part in a Google+ “Hangout” with the president, a virtual interview streamed live on YouTube. Here’s the archived video; the Fremont kids’ segment starts at about 30:19:

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2012
Under: education, Obama presidency | No Comments »

CA redevelopment agencies take plea to governor

The California Redevelopment Association and League of California Cities have sent Gov. Jerry Brown an eight-page letter outlining all the ways the pending Wednesday dissolution of redevelopment agencies is a bad idea.

Read the full letter here.

Among the critical issues they spell out:

  • Possible bond defaults
  • Loss of taxpayer funds
  • Possible violations of federal law
  • Stranded public infrastructure projects
  • Loss of critical staff to implement the law

“Both organizations want to collaborate with the governor and Legislature in order to prevent harm to the public interest and to keep California on track in its economic recovery,” the league wrote on  CA Cities Advocate.

They had hoped to win passage of  a pending bill (SB 659 Padilla) that would postpone the deadline to April 15, but Brown has been quoting saying he saw no reason to “delay the funeral.” The California Supreme Court struck down in December legislation that would have allowed redevelopment agencies to stay in business in exchange for cash payments toward the state deficit.

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2012
Under: redevelopment | 4 Comments »

California, meet Propositions 28 and 29

Secretary of State Debra Bowen has announced the numbers for the two measures set to appear on the June 5 ballot, and interested Californians now can submit arguments to be considered for inclusion in the state’s official voter information guide.

Here are the ballot measures, with their official titles and summaries as written by the state attorney general’s office:

Proposition 28 – Limits on Legislators’ Terms in Office. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Reduces the total amount of time a person may serve in the state legislature from 14 years to 12 years. Allows a person to serve a total of 12 years either in the Assembly, the Senate, or a combination of both. Applies only to legislators first elected after the measure is passed. Provides that legislators elected before the measure is passed continue to be subject to existing term limits. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: No direct fiscal effect on state or local governments. (09-0048)

Proposition 29 – Imposes Additional Tax on Cigarettes for Cancer Research. Initiative Statute. Imposes additional five cent tax on each cigarette distributed ($1.00 per pack), and an equivalent tax increase on other tobacco products, to fund cancer research and other specified purposes. Requires tax revenues be deposited into a special fund to finance research and research facilities focused on detecting, preventing, treating, and curing cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other tobacco-related diseases, and to finance prevention programs. Creates nine-member committee charged with administering the fund. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increase in new cigarette tax revenues of about $855 million annually by 2011-12, declining slightly annually thereafter, for various health research and tobacco-related programs. Increase of about $45 million annually to existing health, natural resources, and research programs funded by existing tobacco taxes. Increase in state and local sales taxes of about $32 million annually. (09-0097.)

People can submit arguments for or against any measure, and those selected for the official ballot guide will be on public display from Feb. 21 through March 12.

State law gives first priority to arguments written by the initiative’s proponents, and then to bona fide citizen associations, and then to individuals. No more than three signers are allowed to appear with an argument or rebuttal to an argument. Ballot arguments can’t exceed 500 words and rebuttals can’t exceed 250 words; all submissions should be typed and double-spaced, and can be hand-delivered to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at 1500 11th Street, 5th Floor, Sacramento, California 95814; faxed to (916) 653-3214; or emailed to VIGarguments@sos.ca.gov. If faxed or emailed, the original copies must be received within 72 hours. The deadline for ballot arguments is 5 p.m. next Tuesday, Feb. 7; the deadline for rebuttals is 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16.

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2012
Under: ballot measures, taxes | 5 Comments »

President Obama to raise funds in SF on Feb. 16

President Barack Obama will be in San Francisco to raise campaign funds on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Chris Cornell in LA last monthThere’ll be a reception at a location yet to be named (when he did something like this last April, it was at the Masonic Auditorium on Nob Hill), featuring a performance by Grammy-winning performer Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame. Tickets will cost $100 for general seating; $1,000 for preferred seating; and $7,500, which includes preferred seating and an individual photo with President Obama (but you can have additional people in your photo at a cost of $2,500 per head).

There also will be a much smaller, 60-person dinner (like the one he did last April at salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff’s house) at the San Francisco home of novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife, Nicola Miner, at $35,800 per person. The president will make remarks and take questions at this event, for which the food will be prepared by Michael Tusk, chef and owner of Quince and Cotogna. The dinner will include a musical performance too, but the artist hasn’t been named yet.

As I’d reported when Vice President Joe Biden was coming to town this month, donors can choose to buy a $10,000 package that will include admission and a photo at the President’s bigger event on Feb. 16; admission and a photo at First Lady Michelle Obama’s not-yet-scheduled March event; and entry into other events between now and November. (It’s only $7,500 if you forego the photo with the president.)

As usual, the first $5,000 of a contribution will go the president’s reelection campaign, with half earmarked for the primary election and half for the general. The rest – up to $30,800 – will go to the Democratic National Committee, although the donor can designate that money for a specific recipient somewhere.

Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, campaign finance, Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Four Californians on Romney’s Latino committee

Four of the 28 members of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s national Hispanic Steering Committee are from California.

“President Obama’s policies have been especially devastating to Hispanic families. Over 2.5 million Hispanics are unemployed today, with the unemployment rate at 11% for Hispanics,” Romney said in the news release. “President Obama does not understand that what makes our country great is our people, not the government. These leaders understand that for our economy to recover, we must free the entrepreneurial spirit that made this the greatest nation in the history of the Earth.”

At a glance, the committee looks pretty Florida-heavy, which isn’t surprising considering the death-match Romney and Newt Gingrich are fighting in that state’s winner-take-all primary next Tuesday.

But, among those serving on the committee are:

    Hector Barreto, who was named in 2001 by President George W. Bush to serve as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. He resigned in 2006 after an internal investigation revealed the SBA had distributed post-9/11 aid to businesses around the country that had neither requested nor needed it, and after criticisms of a slow response to the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005. He now runs an Irvine-based international business consulting firm and general insurance agency.
    Allen Gutierrez of Mission Viejo, who during the Bush Administration was senior advisor to the SBA’s chief operating officer as well as senior advisor to the Office of International Trade. He’s founder and president of the MCA Group, which does federal and private-sector procurement, special events management and multicultural marketing; he’s also executive director of The Latino Coalition, a Los Angeles-based national organization – of which Barreto is board chairman – that represents Latino interests with senior executives of Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.
    Aner Igelesias of Bradbury, president of the King Ranch Market supermarket chain and a member of the Latin Chamber of Commerce, the Unified Grocers Committee, the Mexican-American Grocers Association and the American Grocers Association.
    Hector Barajas of Sacramento, communications director for Revolvis Consulting and a political analyst for Univision and Telemundo. Barajas has served as spokesman for the California State Senate Republican Leader and Caucus, the California Victory 2008 campaign, the Republican National Committee, and the McCain/Palin 2008 and Bush/Cheney 2004 presidential campaigns.

See the entire list, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney | 1 Comment »