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Carly Fiorina to raise funds Dec. 14 in Palo Alto

A lawyer who helped then-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina beat back a lawsuit that aimed to prevent 2001’s HP-Compaq merger now is about to host a fundraiser for Fiorina’s presidential campaign.

Carly FiorinaBoris Feldman, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and his wife, Robin, will host a reception for Fiorina on Monday, Dec. 14 at their Palo Alto home. Tickets for the “New York Deli style luncheon” cost $500 per person – here’s hoping that pastrami is excellent – or $2,700 for a host-committee reception and photo opportunity with the candidate.

Fiorina will head to Las Vegas the next day, Dec. 15, for the next Republican presidential debate, hosted by CNN, Facebook and Salem Media; CNN personality Wolf Blitzer will be the moderator, joined by correspondent Dana Bash and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Fiorina, a former Los Altos Hills resident who proudly touts her time at HP’s helm despite experts’ questioning of her business record, last visited the Bay Area in early October, for a fundraising reception in Piedmont.

According to the 2008 edition of Northern California Super Lawyers, Feldman usually defends “companies and senior executives facing shareholder suits and SEC investigations involving alleged violations of securities laws.

Boris Feldman“One example is a court victory that prevented a shareholder and former director of Hewlett-Packard from stopping the company’s merger with Compaq Computer,” the publication reported. “At the trial, Feldman put then-HP CEO Carly Fiorina on the stand. By carefully preparing her, he made Fiorina a knowledgeable, persuasive witness. ‘Too often litigators allow [senior executive] clients to look stupid for tactical reasons,’ he says.”

Feldman told the New York Times in mid-September that Fiorina’s first foray onto the prime-time debate stage would be “a defining moment in Carly’s career.” Her poll numbers did improve sharply after that first show-down with frontrunner Donald Trump, but the surge didn’t last: After a brief stint in third place nationwide with 11.8 percent of the vote in late September, she’s now in sixth place with 3.7 percent, according to an average of recent polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. In Iowa, she’s ranked sixth at 3.7 percent as well; in New Hampshire – where she’d been ranked second for a while – she’s now tied for eighth, at 4.3 percent.

Before Fiorina gets here, Marco Rubio will step up to the Bay Area campaign ATM with a fundraiser next Monday, Dec. 7 in Mountain View (as previously reported here).

Posted on Monday, November 30th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Carly Fiorina | No Comments »

Mike Huckabee to raise funds in Bay Area

Hot on the heels of being dropped from prime time to undercard status in Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debates in Milwaukee, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will be in the Bay Area on Wednesday to raise money for his apparently flagging campaign.

HuckabeeHuckabee will attend a reception Wednesday evening at the Los Altos Hills home of tech entrepreneur Joe Tan and his wife, Mary (insert manger joke here); tickets cost $500 per person, or $1,000 or $2,700 for a photo opportunity with Huckabee. Co-hosts include Christian grant-making charity founder and former tech executive Ken Eldred and his wife, Roberta, of Portola Valley; Cepheid cofounder Tom Gutshall and his wife, Kipp, of Los Altos Hills; venture capitalist Tim Eun and his wife, Amanda, of Los Altos; and several others.

Huckabee now polls at 2.4 percent – in ninth place among GOP candidates – according to an average of five recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, down from a high of 13.3 percent in early March. He has dipped below the 2.5 percent threshold that FOX Business Network and the Wall Street Journal set for participation in Tuesday’s prime-time debate; Huckabee and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had been in the first three prime-debates, both didn’t make the cut this time.

As previously reported here, Christie will be in the Bay Area next Thursday, Nov. 19 for a fundraiser at the Atherton home of Hewlett Packard CEO and 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. Christie now polls at 2.2 percent – in 10th place – according to Real Clear Politics, down from a high of 11.5 percent about a year ago.

Marco RubioA somewhat more successful Republican candidate is on the way too. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. – already the beneficiary of Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s largesse – will return to the Bay Area for a fundraising reception on the evening of Monday, Dec. 7, at the Mozart Foundation Automobile Museum in Mountain View; tickets cost $1,000 per person, or $2,700 including a photo opportunity with the candidate. Rubio is now polling at 11.8 percent nationwide – in third place behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson – according to Real Clear Politics, down from a high of 14.3 percent in May.

The host committee for Rubio’s event includes former longtime tech executive Susan Atherton of San Francisco; angel investor Oren Dobronsky of Palo Alto; buyout firm CEO Saul Fox of Woodside; real estate developer John Mozart of Los Altos Hills; former Accenture general counsel Doug Scrivner and his wife, Mary, of Los Altos Hills; and more than 20 others. Mozart’s car private collection of automobiles including Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Duesenberg, Pierce Arrow, Packard, and Ferrari is not open to the public.

Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance | 2 Comments »

Meg Whitman to host Chris Christie fundraiser

Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman will host a fundraising reception for a Republican presidential candidate next month – but not for her HP predecessor and 2010 ticket-mate, Carly Fiorina.

Meg WhitmanWhitman and her husband, Griff Harsh, will host a $2,700-per-person fundraiser for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 19 at their Atherton home. Whitman signed on to Christie’s campaign in June as a national finance co-chair.

This event’s host committee includes real estate developer Steve Eggert and his wife, Pam, of Sacramento; businessman and Wall Street heir Nick Loeb of Florida; Bullpen Capital managing director Paul Martino of Mountain View; Palo Alto Networks chairman, president and CEO Mark McLaughlin and his wife, Karen, of Saratoga; real estate investor Carole McNeil of San Francisco; and GOP strategist Jeff Randle and his wife, Kellie, of Sacramento.

Christie currently is ranked ninth in the GOP field, with 2.4 percent support, according to an average of five recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. Fiorina is in sixth place, at 5.4 percent.

Whitman and Fiorina made their first runs for public office at the same time in 2010 – Whitman, who had been eBay’s CEO from 1998 to 2008, ran for governor of California while Fiorina, HP’s CEO from 1999 to CEO, challenged U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Both lost – Whitman by 13 percentage points, Fiorina by 10 – with Fiorina garnering more raw votes than Whitman.

Fiorina has raised $317,879 and Christie has raised $37,200 from the greater Bay Area this year, according to Federal Election Commission data crunched by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Posted on Monday, October 26th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Meg Whitman | 1 Comment »

Hillary Clinton to raise funds Nov. 4 in Bay Area

Here she comes again: Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton will be raising funds in the Bay Area again in the first week of November, after doing so here in May, June, August, and September.

This time around, she’ll start Wednesday, Nov. 4 in Sacramento, with a $2,700-per-person luncheon hosted by Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 2010 to 2013. Kounalakis is a four-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention and the daughter of Angelo Tsakopoulos, a Sacramento developer, mega-donor to President Bill Clinton, and key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential bid in 2008.

Then the candidate is headed for Los Altos, where she’ll attend a “family celebration” hosted by Anne, Esther, Janet, and Susan Wojcicki; $1,000 buys admission for one adult and two children under 16, while $2,700 allows that plus a family photo with Clinton. (Apparently there were $500 tickets available too, but those have sold out.)

Anne Wojcicki is co-founder and CEO of the personal genomics company 23andMe, and the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube. Dr. Janet Wojcicki is a pediatric epidemiologist and assistant professor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine. The three sisters’ mother, Esther Wojcicki, is a Palo Alto High School journalism and English teacher who is vice chair of the board of Creative Commons.

Clinton will finish that day down in Beverly Hills with a $2,700-per-person reception at the home of pop star Christina Aguilera and Matthew Rutler; Aguilera will perform. The next day – Thursday, Nov. 5 – she’ll attend a morning event in Los Angeles co-hosted by director Rob Reiner and his wife, Michele, and interior decorator Michael Smith.

UPDATE AT 8:54 AM MONDAY: Whoops, there’s one more Bay Area event. After looping down to Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, Clinton will come north again for a reception Thursday evening at Hall Wines in St. Helena; tickets cost $1,000, or $2,700 for a photo with the candidate.

Posted on Saturday, October 24th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Hillary Clinton | 4 Comments »

Banding together to buy back Congress

The $3 million – and possibly more – that Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison has given to a super PAC backing Republican Marco Rubio’s presidential bid is a perfect example of why ordinary Americans need a way to balance out megadonors’ money, Rep. John Sarbanes said Friday.

John Sarbanes“It’s about who can get their phone calls answered, who can get the attention of candidates in the first place,” Sarbanes, D-Md., said during an interview in San Francisco. “Obviously the super PAC benefactors are in a position to do that with the presidential candidates.”

But now super PACs also are playing increasingly large roles in Senate and House races too, dragging America toward the day when every federal candidate will need to have “have a sugar daddy in the wings,” he said.

Unless regular voters band together to become sugar daddies themselves.

Sarbanes is the author of H.R. 20, the “Government By the People Act,” which would give every citizen taxpayer a $25 “My Voice Tax Credit” for House campaign contributions, and then augment those small contributions – and give candidates a bigger incentive to seek them – with a six-to-one match from a taxpayer-funded “Freedom From Influence Fund.” The bill also would let candidates to earn additional public matching funds within 60 days of the election so that citizen-funded candidates can combat Super PACs and outside groups.

“Even before Citizens United, we had a problem with direct campaign contributions to candidates having a lot of influence,” Sarbanes said, so pursuing a constitutional amendment to overturn that 2010 Supreme Court decision – a longshot at best – wouldn’t solve the problem. Instead, he said, it’s time to “build a different system that gives everyday people power.”

Some might complain that the answer to the corrosive influence of money in politics shouldn’t be putting more even money into politics. But Sarbanes said “the problem is not so much the amount of money – the problem is the source of the money,” coming from a tiny percentage of the mega-rich and amplifying only their interests.

Someone is going to own the levers of government – “either it’s going to be the big money crowd… or it’s going to be the public,” he said. “And if the public wants to own the government, there’s going to be a cost associated that, but it’s a pretty modest investment.”

This could help reverse the long downward trend in voter turnout, too, he said. “A lot of rational voters, either consciously or subconsciously, are saying to themselves, ‘Why bother voting if the guy I elect is going to work for someone else’” with deeper pockets, Sarbanes said. Fighting for access to the ballot box is important, but it’s useless if that ballot box is then hijacked on its way to Washington by moneyed special interests. “There’s a right to vote, and then there’s a right to have your vote mean something.”

Disclosure requirements, non-coordination rules and other campaign finance regulations “are about putting a referee on the field, to blow the whistle when someone is going out of bounds. It doesn’t solve the problems of most Americans still sitting up there in the bleachers,” he said. “The disaffected, disillusioned, frankly desperately cynical voters who’ve packed their things and fled the town square – this is a way to bring them back.”

Sarbanes’ bill has 155 co-sponsors, including the Bay Area’s entire House delegation but one Republican, Walter Jones, R-N.C. Sarbanes acknowledges he’s playing a long game and doesn’t expect the bill to pass any time soon, but he said he’s hitting themes that should appeal to voters across the political spectrum. After all, he said, voters on the far left and Tea Partiers alike talk about wanting to take their country back from the fat-cat special interests.

“I do see increasing use of the same lexicon, the same narrative I’m talking about here… and if they’re speaking this language, then we’re winning,” he said.

Posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2015
Under: campaign finance, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Twitter launches $Cashtags for political donations

Twitter launched a new service Tuesday letting users contribute to their favorite political candidates and causes through a tweet.

The micro-blogging social media giant teamed up with its San Francisco neighbor, Square, to set up the new system.

Twitter CashtagCandidates who sign up for an account through Square Cash can tweet a unique URL, or $Cashtag, to request donations from supporters. The tweet will automatically include an image with a “contribute” button, making it easy for anyone to click to donate directly through the tweet.

Donors who see a candidate’s $Cashtag and hit the “contribute” button will be able to select a donation amount and add debit card and FEC-required information. Users then have the option to tweet the candidate’s $Cashtag to their own followers or return to where they were in Twitter.

Twitter also noted Tuesday it has developed tools like country-specific notifications to remind people to register to vote, richer Tweets that make email collection for campaigns easier, and real-time audience tailoring so advertisers can better identify and target relevant conversations.

“By partnering with Square to enable donations through Tweets, and as the 2016 election season heats up, we’ve upgraded these tools through which citizens can raise their voices to champion causes and candidates they support,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
Under: campaign finance, Technology in politics | 2 Comments »

Hillary Clinton is in the Bay Area today

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in the Bay Area on Wednesday and Thursday for fundraisers, but no public events.

Hillary Clinton 5-27-2015 (AP photo)The former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady is scheduled to attend a reception Wednesday evening at the Atherton home of investor and former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly and his wife, Galavantier co-founder Jennifer Carrico. Tickets start at $2,700, but co-hosts are being asked to raise $27,000 and hosts are being asked to raise $50,000.

On Thursday morning, Clinton will attend a fundraiser in San Francisco hosted by Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma, and Melissa Ma; the same ticket prices and hosting requirements apply.

Then she’s headed to Los Angeles for another fundraiser later Thursday at the home of Scooter Braun – Justin Bieber’s manager – and his wife, Yael; and to La Jolla for a fundraiser Friday at the home of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan. Some tickets for the Los Angeles and La Jolla events went for $1,000 each.

Clinton does have one non-fundraising event planned on this California swing. She’ll hold a roundtable discussion Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles with home-care providers and consumers including members of the Service Employees International Union, which will livestream the event on its website.

“Once again Hillary Clinton proves that she’s more interested in hosting high-dollar fundraisers than discussing the issues that matter to everyday Californians,” Republican National Committee spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said in an emailed statement. “And as she continues dodging questions on key issues and the mishandling of classified information on her secret email server, it’s no surprise that voters continue to find her not honest or trustworthy.”

Clinton raised money in the Bay Area in May and June.

Posted on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Hillary Clinton | 3 Comments »

Bush, Carson & Fiorina are Bay Area-bound

As the Republican presidential field keeps on expanding, the Bay Area continues to attract candidates in search of campaign cash.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will hit Los Angeles on Tuesday and Pasadena and Santa Barbara on Wednesday before arriving in the Bay Area.

In San Francisco, he’ll attend a reception Wednesday evening at the home of Cavalry Asset Management founder John Hurley and his wife, Kamilla. Tickets cost $2,700, but co-hosts can pay $10,000 to gain access to a separate photo reception while co-chairs can pay $27,000 for both events plus two tickets to a private VIP event with Bush in Los Angeles on Aug. 11.

And in Silicon Valley, Bush will attend a luncheon reception at midday Thursday in the Village Pub in Woodside; tickets for this cost the same as for the San Francisco event.

Politico’s Playbook says Bush’s Bay Area visit also will include hailing a ride with Uber in order to underscore the importance of innovation and disruptive technology to create jobs, as well as a tour of San Francisco-based Thumbtack, a startup that helps users connect with local professionals from disc jockeys to house painters.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is scheduled to have a late-afternoon fundraiser next Thursday, July 23 at an undisclosed home in Alameda County, hosted by the Frederick Douglass Foundation of California. Tickets cost $250 per person.

And Carly Fiorina – no stranger to the Bay Area, as a former Los Altos Hills resident and former Hewlett-Packard CEO – will attend a fundraising reception on Monday, Aug. 10 at the Piedmont home of real estate brokerage founder Bill Cumbelich and his wife, Sara. Tickets start at $250; $1,000 buys entry into a private reception with a photo opportunity; and $2,700 admits the contributor to a host-committee roundtable.

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance | 1 Comment »

Lawmakers urge $$$ disclosure, LGBT protection

Bay Area House Democrats are demanding action on disclosure of government contractors’ political contributions and on protecting LGBT people from assault in immigration detention centers.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, led 104 House members while U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., let 26 senators in urging President Barack Obama to issue an executive order requiring companies that do business with the federal government to fully disclose their political contributions.

“Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is spent and you have the power to ensure that the American people can obtain this information,” the House members wrote. “With public funds come public responsibilities, and any company receiving federal tax dollars should be required by executive order to fully disclose their political spending in a timely and accessible manner.”

Among the top 15 recipients of federal contracting dollars, a recent analysis by Public Citizen found that only 47 percent fully disclose their contributions to non-disclosing 501(c)(4) organizations. This is the fourth time since 2011 that Eshoo has led her colleagues in calling on President Obama to issue such an executive order. All Bay Area House members signed the letter except Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., signed the senate version, but Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., did not.

honda.jpgAlso Tuesday, Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., led 33 House members in writing a letter to the Department of Homeland Security to express concerns over the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

“Detention should almost never be used for vulnerable groups such as LGBT immigrants facing immigration proceedings,” they wrote. “Recent surveys of jails and prisons by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that non-heterosexual detainees experience sexual assault at up to 10 times the rate of heterosexual men. The situation is starker for transgender detainees. According to the BJS survey, one in three will be sexually abused within 12 months in custody.”

The lawmakers asked that DHS and ICE consider an LGBT person’s detention to be “not in the public interest” per the department’s November 2014 enforcement memo, and that they work with LGBT and civil rights groups “to develop additional community-based alternatives to detention.”

Bay Area Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, were among those signing the letter.

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Under: Anna Eshoo, campaign finance, Immigration, Mike Honda, U.S. House | No Comments »

State government transparency at a mouse-click

A new website combining legislative hearing videos and transcripts, information on bills, and data on contributions and gifts to lawmakers in an easy-to-use way was rolled out Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former state Sen. Sam Blakeslee and a passel of good-government advocates.

Digital Democracy not only makes all of this information more accessible and searchable and easier to cross-reference, but also interfaces with social media so users can easily share what they find. The site was created by students at Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy – of which Blakeslee, a Republican from San Luis Obispo, is founding director – so not only advocates and journalists but all Californians can get a clearer picture of what government does and why.

“Technology has radically changed the way society interacts but government is on the cutting edge of 1973. All of this only increases the gap between people and government,” Newsom, who is running for governor in 2018, said in a news release. “Digital Democracy gives citizens the keys to unlock capitol corridors and assess facts in a way that they can be part of the process of governing again.”

Blakeslee said in the release that his institute developed this “to open up government.

“Right now it is a very closed place and the public is largely not able to see what happens, unless they are attending legislative committee hearings in person,” he said. “The California State Legislature does not produce transcripts or minutes from these hearings. There is no list of who was in the room, influencing decisions that were made. With this powerful new platform, Californians will be able to see exactly what people are saying as state laws are being written.”

Newsom serves on the institute’s advisory board member and is author of the 2013 book Citizenville, which explores civic participation in the digital age.

The institute released a poll last week that found overwhelming support for requiring that all state documents, including the budget, be available online with a Google-like search engine. It also found that nearly all Californians want the Legislature’s public hearings to be captured by video and made available to the public on the Internet within 24 hours.

California’s legislature currently does not produce minutes or transcripts of legislative committee hearings. A recent report from the Public Interest Research Group graded every state on government-spending transparency; California received an “F,” coming in dead last.

Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015
Under: campaign finance, Gavin Newsom, governance reform, Lt. Governor | No Comments »