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CA17: Khanna & Honda spar over campaign money

South Bay congressional candidate Ro Khanna and Rep. Mike Honda are challenging each other to put their money where their mouths are – or rather, to give up some of that money.

Khanna, a Democrat from Fremont, sent a letter Thursday to Honda, D-San Jose, asking the congressman to shun any independent expenditure committee or super PAC support in the 17th Congressional District race.

“I was encouraged to see your Tweet yesterday about your co-sponsorship of House Joint Resolution 25, to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United. We are in complete agreement on this important issue. Unlimited spending by outside special interest groups is polluting our politics,” Khanna wrote.

“Let’s stand together with the other candidates in this race and take the same People’s Pledge Senator Elizabeth Warren and her opponent did to keep independent expenditures out of their race in 2012,” he wrote. “Senator Warren and Scott Brown agreed to pay a penalty of 50 percent the cost of any TV, radio, or Internet advertising by an outside group – whether that ad supported the candidates themselves or aimed to attack their opponent. The money would be donated to a charity chosen by the other candidate. I believe we should embrace this landmark agreement and expand it to include direct mail expenditures as well. By saying no to all forms of advertising from outside groups, we are taking real stand against Citizens United.”

It worked well in that Massachusetts Senate race, Khanna noted.

“I hope you will take this pledge with me – and join me in asking any other candidates who may enter this race to do the same,” he wrote. “As the heart of Silicon Valley, the 17th District is our nation’s capital of innovation. We have a real opportunity to lead on this issue, too.”

Khanna already has pledged not to accept any direct contributions from PACs or federally registered lobbyists – though it’s not as if a lot of that money would be raining down upon him anyway as he challenges a seven-term incumbent. The same goes for independent expenditures and super PACs: While some might come Khanna’s way, Honda probably would benefit more, and so would lose more by taking this pledge.

Khanna’s campaign started this year with $1.97 million cash on hand while Honda had $622,000 banked, so this might not be an easy principle for Honda to stand on.

Then again, Honda has been outspoken in his opposition to Citizens United and the rampant independent spending it has bred:

Honda tweet

Doug Greven, Honda’s campaign manager, responded to Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan on Thursday night. Apparently Honda won’t commit to a pledge against IE and super PAC funding, but Greven made a counter-offer:

In the true spirit of keeping undue influence out of this election, we propose limiting contributions to all candidates in this race to an amount that puts millionaires on a level playing field with ordinary folks: $570. This is the same limit as local elections in the city of Fremont, in our district.

We propose that all campaigns refund contributions to any donors who have already given more than this limit of $570. Your campaign can start by refunding the $11,000 in contributions from the five donors who have already requested a refund because Ro misled them. He had asked for their max-out contributions to run for an open seat, then used their money to run in a different district — against Mike.

Then your campaign can continue by refunding contributions to Marc Leder (gave $5,200 to Ro) who hosted Mitt Romney for the fundraiser where he made his 47% remark, and Peter Thiel (gave $2,500 to Ro) who has given millions to the Club for Growth in order to elect far-right conservatives like Ted Cruz.

We look forward to your response.

Asked whether this means Honda won’t consider the anti-IE pledge, Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan replied, “Any serious proposal to change campaign financing in this race would need to include reducing the amount that can be given directly to any campaign.”

Seeing as how the first part of this proposal would entail Khanna’s campaign jettisoning the vast majority of the tremendous bankroll it has raised, I feel confident in guessing the answer will be: “Fat chance.”

UPDATE @ 8:41 A.M. FRIDAY: Cowan replied to Greven late last night.

Hi Doug,

I appreciate your note, but I think it’s off topic.

Yesterday Congressman Honda tweeted that he supports amending the US Constitution to reverse Citizens United. Ro agrees.

Citizens United ruled that corporations are people and that individuals have the right to spend unlimited money to influence elections. I think you are aware that reversing Citizens United has nothing to do with the issues you raised in your note.

Does Congressman Honda support reversing Citizens United or doesn’t he?

Does he think the reversal of Citizens United should apply to all candidates, or would he write exceptions into the United States Constitution?

We have a real opportunity in this race to stand up against special interests and do something that the voters are demanding: change business as usual in Washington. I hope that Congressman Honda will reconsider his position and join Ro in this pledge.

Yours Truly,
Leah

Posted on Thursday, January 23rd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CA17: Examining a few Khanna & Honda donors

House candidates have until Jan. 31 to file their year-end campaign finance reports, and in the Bay Area, folks will be waiting with bated breath to see who has anted up for whom in the South Bay’s Democrat-on-Democrat battle for the 17th Congressional District.

So far, challenger Ro Khanna has enormously outraised incumbent Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose. Khanna had a bit over $1.9 millon cash on hand with about $36,000 in outstanding debts as of Sept. 30, while Honda had about $560,000 banked with $4,700 in outstanding debts.

And each side probably can find fault with some of the other side’s contributors.

Ro KhannaFor example, a few donors to Khanna’s campaign seem to be Republicans taking an “anybody-but-Honda” stance.

Marc Leder – the Florida hedge-fund executive who hosted the fundraiser at which Mitt Romney made his infamous “47 percent” comment, and who gave Romney and affiliated groups more than half a million dollars – contributed $5,200 to Khanna’s campaign. Khanna isn’t the only Democrat to whom Leder has contributed – he has given to U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Fla.,; and a few others – but his money skews heavily toward the GOP.

Khanna also received $2,500 from billionaire PayPal cofounder, hedge fund manager and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, a libertarian-leaning GOP funder who has given $2.6 million to the Endorse Liberty PAC and $2 million to Club for Growth Action in recent years.

And Khanna received $5,100 from Bay Area venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, whose only other contribution in recent years was $5,000 to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Palihapitiya made waves during October’s government shutdown by saying “stasis in the government is actually good for all of us. It means they can neither do anything semi-useful nor anything really stupid.”

Such contributions seem an inevitable result of California’s top-two primary system, in which all candidates from all parties compete and the top two vote-getters advance to November regardless of party. The 17th District’s voters are 44.4 percent Democrats, 31.5 percent independents and 18.8 percent Republicans, giving GOP candidates precious little chance of advancing, so any challenger to Honda – among the House’s most liberal members – is likely to get support from a wider political spectrum.

honda.jpgOn the other hand, Khanna has stuck by his pledge not to take any money from political action committees, while Honda has accepted at least $165,335 from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis. Labor has given Honda more PAC money than any other sector – $54,700 – but Democratic and social issue PACs, health sector PACs and communications/electronics sector PACs have anted up, too.

And Honda, unlike Khanna, accepts contributions from federally registered lobbyists. Among such contributions on Honda’s latest report: $500 from Micky Ibarra, whose firm’s clients have included various Latino organizations and the pharmaceutical industry’s trade group; $500 from Christopher Mitchell, a former Honda aide whose firm’s clients have included an electronics industry trade group and defense contractor General Dynamics; and $500 from Daron Watts, whose firm’s clients include several big pharmaceutical companies.

Posted on Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

Tix start at $1k for Obama’s DNC fundraiser in SF

President Barack Obama will be back in the Bay Area in late November to raise money for Democrats.

The luncheon on Monday, Nov. 25 at the San Francisco Jazz Center will be hosted by novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife, Nicola Miner, who held a fundraiser for Obama in their Pacific Heights home in February 2012.

An invitation to the event says tickets cost $1,000 per person; $5,000 for lunch and a photo reception; $7,500 for lunch and the photo reception for two; $10,000 for lunch and the photo reception for a family of up to five people; or $15,000 for lunch and a special co-chair reception. All money goes to the Democratic National Committee.

The San Francisco luncheon is part of the latest national fundraising blitz the President is undertaking on behalf of the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Obama did fundraisers for the DSCC in Palo Alto and Portola Valley this past June, and for the DCCC in April in San Francisco.

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, campaign finance, Democratic Party | 20 Comments »

CA17: Former 49ers stars raise money for Khanna

Amid trying to explain a website snafu which created “personal fundraiser” pages for Twitter followers without their knowledge or consent, House candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign tried to get the word out Tuesday about an upcoming fundraiser with some 49ers flair.

Khanna & LottFormer 49ers stars Ronnie Lott, Harris Barton, Roger Craig, and Dwight Clark will headline a fundraiser for Khanna – a former Obama administration official who’s seeking to unseat fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda – next Monday, Oct. 28 in Fremont.

“After being part of four Super Bowl winning teams, I know what it takes to deliver results,” Lott wrote in an email to Khanna supporters, describing Khanna as someone who “embodies the key principles of hard work and leadership.”

“Keeping up with the news in Washington lately has made me deeply frustrated,” Lott wrote. “Entrenched special interests have gummed up the works of Congress and nothing is getting done on behalf of the American people. I think it’s time for new leadership, and just like there came a time to pass the torch from Joe to Steve, and from Alex to Colin, now is the time to pass the torch from Mike to Ro. We need new energy and bold ideas to confront the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”

Tickets for Monday’s event range in cost from $1,000 to $5,200.

Khanna raised $1.2 million in the final quarter of 2011, when people thought he would run to succeed Rep. Pete Stark; Stark chose not to retire in 2012, and was defeated in November by Rep. Eric Swalwell, another Democrat. Since entering this 17th Congressional District race in early April, Khanna has outstripped Honda in fundraising in this year’s second and third quarters.

The Bay Area Chapter of KAYA Filipino Americans for Progress, a political mobilization group, held a fundraiser for Honda on Monday night in Daly City. His campaign said he’ll be in Washington for the next week, but has scheduled campaign meet-and-greets (contributions of $10 to $500 requested by not required) for Saturday, Nov. 2 in Cupertino and Sunnyvale.

Posted on Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Q3 fundraising reports: CA15, CA7 and many more

As third-quarter Federal Election Commission reports trickle in on today’s deadline, it looks as if freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell still doesn’t have much to worry about money-wise from his Democratic challenger.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, raised $277,928 and spent $69,599 in the third quarter, leaving him with $614,262 cash on hand and $7,639 in outstanding debts as of Sept. 30. State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, raised $36,502 and spent $9,269 in the third quarter, leaving her with $143,417 cash on hand and no outstanding debts as of Sept. 30.

The 15th Congressional District – about 90 percent in Alameda County, and the rest in Contra Costa County – is registered 48.4 percent Democrat, 22.2 percent Republican and 20.7 percent no-party-preference.

I reported last week on what’s expected to be a fiercer Democrat-on-Democrat House showdown between Rep. Mike Honda and challenger Ro Khanna, where Khanna continues to outstrip the incumbent in fundraising.

Elsewhere, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton – often a target of the National Republican Congressional Committee – raised $140,310 and spent $66,407, leaving him with $243,445 cash on hand and $3,704 in outstanding debts. He’ll be challenged next year by Republican Steve Anthony Colangelo of Stockton, a prominent member of the local business community who owns “the leading event supply company in the Central Valley for weddings, graduation parties and other important community and family events.” Colangelo’s third-quarter report is not yet available as of now.

In a more distant but potentially tighter race, two Republicans vying to take a crack at freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, are putting a lot of their own money into their campaigns.

Former Rep. Doug Ose, a Republican from Sacramento, announced early last month that he’ll challenge Bera. Ose reported Tuesday that he raised $238,150 and lent his campaign $250,000 from his own pocket while spending $15,681 in the third quarter, leaving him with $256,243 cash on hand and $61,839 in outstanding debts as of Sept. 30.

(UPDATE @ 8:45 P.M.: Nick Mirman, a spokesman for Ose’s campaign, e-mailed me this evening to say that the $250,000 that appeared in Ose’s latest report as a loan from the candidate “reflects forgiving campaign debt from the 2008 race … Again, he has not contributed $250,000 to his 2014 race.”)

Elizabeth Emken – U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Republican challenger in 2012, who since has moved from Danville to Fair Oaks for this race – reported raising $63,395 and loaning her campaign another $35,000 (for a total of $285,000 in personal loans so far this year) while spending $49,855 in the third quarter. That left her with $336,895 cash on hand but a whopping $293,255 in outstanding debts as of Sept. 30.

Bera raised $456,396 and spent $68,268 in the third quarter, leaving him with $898,748 cash on hand but $345,490 in outstanding debts as of Sept. 30.

Among the Bay-Area-House-Democrats-with-little-to-worry-about, third-quarter reports show:

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, raised $111,505 and spent $104,658, leaving her with $51,582 cash on hand and no outstanding debts
    Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, raised $65,421 and spent $34,519, leaving him with $349,073 cash on hand and $930 in outstanding debts
    Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, raised $196,000 and spent $77,595, leaving her with $477,678 cash on hand and no outstanding debts
    Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, raised $224,310 and spent $58,431, leaving her with $795,550 cash on hand and no outstanding debts
    Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, raised $127,190 and spent $71,987, leaving her with $1,103,324 cash on hand and $2,774 in outstanding debts.
    Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, raised $88,536 and spent $42,056, leaving him with $150,851 cash on hand and no outstanding debts.
    Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, raised $165,713 and spent $135,266, leaving him with $1,466,930 cash on hand and $6,172 in outstanding debts.

Posted on Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, campaign finance, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Sam Farr, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 8 Comments »

Brown signs, vetoes political reform bills

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed one political-reform bill but signed several others Tuesday.

SB 3 by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would have required the Fair Political Practices Commission to create an additional online training course for campaign treasurers. “This is a costly and unnecessary addition to the extensive training and outreach that the Commission already provides,” Brown wrote in his veto message.

The bill also would’ve required the Secretary of State to write a report on what it would take to have comprehensive online campaign disclosure, and Brown acknowledged “the current system – widely viewed as outdated and cumbersome – needs upgrading.” He directed the Government Operations Agency to consult with the FPPC and the Secretary of State “and come back to me with recommendations on the best way to improve campaign disclosure.”

“While I’m disappointed SB 3 hasn’t become law, I’m glad to share common ground with the governor on the need to improve Cal-Access,” Yee said in a news release this afternoon. “I look forward to working with the FPPC and the Secretary of State in finding the best means of making the system more effective. The end goal is for California to have an easily accessible and searchable system that ensures accountability in our elections.”

Philip Ung, policy advocate for the good-government group California Common Cause, said in Yee’s release that although his group disagrees with Brown on the need for treasurer training, Brown’s movement to update the Cal-Access campaign finance filing system “is a step forward to improving transparency in our elections. This action would not have been taken without the pressure from the Legislature, voters, and organizations like Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of California.”

Brown did sign AB 409 by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, which lets the the Fair Political Practices Commission develop and operate an online system for local and state officials and candidates to file their statements of economic interests.

A legislative analysis of AB 409 said allowing electronic filing could save the state a lot of money on the staff time and public access that paper statements require, and might reduce errors on the statements too. The Legislature passed this bill with unanimous votes.

The governor also signed two bills by Assemblyman Paul Fong. AB 552 lets the Fair Political Practices Commission collect unpaid fines and penalties without needing to file a civil lawsuit in superior court. And AB 1090 lets the FPPC bring civil and administrative enforcement actions for violations of a longstanding state law prohibiting conflicts of interests in contracting decisions; it also lets the FPPC issue advice regarding a public official’s obligations under that same law.

Fong, D-Cupertino, issued a statement saying the new laws strengthen the FPPC’s authority and provide resources so those who violate the public trust can be held accountable.

And Brown signed AB 1418 by the Committee on Elections and Redistricting. That bill repeals a requirement that campaign statements must be open for public inspection and copying from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Saturday before a statewide election in the offices of the Secretary of State and the registrars of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego counties; online availability of such reports has made those office hours obsolete, the committee said.

AB 1418 also makes some technical changes to the state’s Political Reform Act of 1974, in part to conform with California’s new top-two primary system.

Posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, campaign finance, Jerry Brown, Leland Yee, Paul Fong | 2 Comments »

Michelle Obama to raise $$$ for DNC in Bay Area

First Lady Michelle Obama will headline a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 12 in Belvedere.

Tickets to the 2:30 p.m. reception at the home of retired software executive Noelle Leca and attorney Michael Moradzadeh start at $1,000 per head; it’s $5,000 for a photo with the First Lady, plus $1,000 per additional person in the photo, or $32,400 to become a co-chair and have an even smaller audience with Mrs. Obama.

Posted on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
Under: campaign finance, Democratic Party, Democratic politics | 2 Comments »

A few upcoming Bay Area political fundrasiers

Though nobody’s pulling down the kind of $32,400-per-head dough that President Obama would’ve raised for Democrats in Los Angeles on Monday had he not cancelled to deal with Syria, some local, state and federal candidates in the Bay Area have fundraisers coming up.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will celebrate her birthday with a fundraiser for her 2016 bid for the 9th State Senate District at 4 p.m. this Sunday, Sept. 8 in Oakland; the special guest will be former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, now a Cal law and public policy faculty member. Tickets cost $100 for “birthday love,” $500 for “birthday well wishes,” $1,000 for “birthday hugs” and $2,500 for “birthday kisses.”

Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson is holding a “BBQ, Brews, Blues and Badges” event to raise money for his 2014 re-election campaign next Friday evening Sept. 13 at the Pine Meadow Golf Course in Martinez. It’s $50 per person or $75 per couple, or $250 for bronze sponsorship, $500 for silver and $1,000 for gold.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will hold a leadership breakfast at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27 at an Oakland restaurant with special guest Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Springs, the freshman who defeated Republican Mary Bono Mack last year. Two tables of eight seats each go for $2,600 or $1,500; one table goes for $500; but individual tickets are pretty cheap at $50 per person or $35 for seniors, students and disabled persons. Lee also has scheduled a reception for 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29 at a couple of supporters’ home in Berkeley; tickets for that range from $100 to $1,000.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, will hold a brunch with special guest Assembly Speaker John Perez at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, before Cal’s homecoming game against Washington State, at a supporter’s home in Berkeley. Individual tickets cost $100 or $250, but co-host status costs from $500 to $8,200.

Posted on Friday, September 6th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Barbara Lee, Bill Quirk, California State Senate, campaign finance, Nancy Skinner, U.S. House | No Comments »

CA17: Mike Honda sings; Ro Khanna in ‘War Room’

Rep. Mike Honda, facing a 2014 challenge from a well-funded fellow Democrat, is willing to sing for his supper – or, at least, to help fill his campaign coffers.

“Congressman Mike Honda is a master on the karaoke mic. Everyone from DC to California’s 17th Congressional District knows it. SF does too,” reads an invitation to the next fundraising event for Honda, D-San Jose. “Let’s celebrate Mike’s re-election effort by joining together for some fun, drink, and embarrassment on Friday, August 16th at Pandora Karaoke Bar in San Francisco! (If you don’t sing, don’t worry – come anyway!)”

The host committee includes former Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco; San Francisco Democratic Party executive director Ally Medina; and several others. Tickets for this “On the Mic with Mike” event cost from $45 to $1,000, but there’s no mention of how much you can pay to avoid listening to these folks sing.

Meanwhile, challenger Ro Khanna will be busy Friday night holding his umpteenth meet-and-greet at a private home in Cupertino; on Saturday, his campaign will be going door-to-door in Fremont, Milpitas, Cupertino and Sunnyvale.

Khanna is coming off a high-exposure week that started with his appearance on Current TV’s “The War Room:”

Posted on Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

Money matchups: Other statewide offices

My article in today’s editions discussed fundraising by 2014 candidates for governor, treasurer, controller and secretary of state, but here are a few other California-wide details for your wonky pleasure.

Attorney General Kamala Harris raised $1.76 million in the first half of 2013, and had $2.7 million cash on hand as of June 30 with about $14,000 in outstanding debts. Harris won a very close race in 2010 – eight-tenths of a point, with rival Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley not conceding until three weeks after Election Day. As of now, however, nobody has filed a statement of intention to run against her in 2014.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom raised $392,000 in the first half of this year and spent about $148,000, leaving him with $1.3 million cash on hand as of June 30; his campaign also had almost $34,000 in outstanding debts at that time. But Newsom, at least for now, faces little competition. Santa Monica businessman Howard Leonhardt, an independent, has a campaign website but I don’t see that he’s filed any papers with the Secretary of State; Republican Robert Bates hasn’t filed any fundraising reports. Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, has a committee open for the 2014 lieutenant governor race, but it has only $747; he’s amassing money for a 2016 state Senate bid. And Republican congressmen Jeff Denham and Kevin McCarthy still have 2014 lieutenant governor campaign committees open but aren’t expected to give up their House seats to run the race. Neither raised any money this year; Denham had $169,000 cash on hand and McCarthy had $72,000 as of June 30.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson raised $183,000 in the first half of this year and spent almost $99,000, leaving him with almost $133,000 cash on hand as of June 30; his campaign also had almost $11,000 in outstanding debts at that time. So far, nobody has filed a statement of intention to run against him in 2014.

Likewise, nobody has filed a statement of intention to challenge Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who raised about $490,000 in the first half of this year and spent about $137,170, leaving him with almost $920,000 cash on hand as of June 30; his campaign also had about $10,000 in outstanding debts at that time.

Posted on Thursday, August 1st, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Attorney General, campaign finance, Dave Jones, Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Tom Torlakson | 2 Comments »