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Dean Andal faces $9,500 FPPC fine

Former CD-11 candidate Dean Andal has agreed to pay a $9,500 fine from California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, though not for conduct related to his 2008 Congressional race against Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.

Rather, the wheels of political justice are just finally grinding toward resolution of a complaint from way back in 2004, when Andal was running for a seat on the Lincoln Unified School District Board of Trustees and used campaign funds to attack an incumbent seeking re-election to the nearby Stockton Unified School District board.

Andal and his committee in October 2004 paid most of the costs for – but didn’t put their names on – two mass mailings attacking the record of SUSD Trustee Clarence Chan, who was being challenged by Sarah Bowden; those mailings went out to about 4,000 recipients, and Bowden eventually beat Chan by 1,058 votes.

Andal and his committee also failed to report accrued expenses on a pre-election campaign statement, FPPC staffers say, and Andal, his campaign and its treasurer, Larry Solari, failed to report required information on spending of $100 or more on a semi-annual campaign statement.

“An aggravating factor applicable to all counts is the fact that Respondent Andal had a great deal of prior experience with the (Political Reform) Act. He previously served as a member of the California State Assembly and the California Board of Equalization (not including other public offices he has run for/held), and he was previously involved with numerous mass mailings,” FPPC staffers wrote in the exhibit that’ll be presented along with a proposed order to FPPC commissioners at their meeting next Thursday, Oct. 8 in Sacramento.

“A mitigating factor applicable to all counts is the fact that Respondents Andal, Citizens for Andal, Citizens for Andal-Lincoln Unified, and Larry Solari cooperated with the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission in all phases of the investigation of this matter and by agreeing to an early settlement of this matter well in advance of the Probable Cause Conference that otherwise would have been held,” they wrote.

Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2009
Under: congressional district 11, Dean Andal | 2 Comments »

NRCC won’t leave Jerry McNerney alone

The National Republican Congressional Committee is at it again, apparently not clear on the fact that Election Day is almost a month behind us now. This morning I received an NRCC hit piece on Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, entitled “McNerney Backer Caught Making Sweetheart Deals” – it’s about Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., who’s facing increasing pressure to step down from his chair of the Ways and Means Committee due to a possible quid pro quo deal with a major donor and other apparent improprieties.

“Jerry McNerney was elected to Congress with the help of dirty money from one of Washington’s most blatantly corrupt legislators,” NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said in the release. “If McNerney truly is the ‘independent voice’ that he claimed to be on the campaign trail, he’ll come forward and join the calls for Charlie Rangel to step down from his committee chairmanship for the benefit of the American people. So far, though, McNerney has been conspicuously silent, and he’s sending a clear signal to the people of California that his idea of being an ‘independent voice’ is shirking his responsibilities to his constituents in an effort to stay in good graces with crooked Washington insiders.”

But whether Rangel should keep his chairmanship is a question that the new House Democratic Caucus will have to consider en masse when it reconvenes in January. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, implied as much last week.

“In September, I called on the House Ethics Committee to look into issues raised by news reports on Chairman Rangel. This followed up on the Chairman’s own request for an investigation by the Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement issued Wednesday. “I have been assured the report will be completed by the end of this session of Congress, which concludes on January 3, 2009. I look forward to reviewing the report at that time.”

That’s Speaker-speak for, “We’re gonna decide this behind closed doors, not in the media.” Now, as a reporter, I’d rather they settle in the media — right here on my blog, in fact — but you don’t have to be a longtime political reporter to know that’s not gonna fly.

So why would any House Democrat buck the Speaker and denounce Rangel now at the NRCC’s dare? Why McNerney in particular? Is the NRCC also urging its own members to renounce Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, the Appropriations Committee‘s ranking Republican, or Don Young, R-Alaska, the Natural Resources Committee‘s ranking Republican — both of whom are the subjects of federal corruption probes?

As far as I can see, McNerney received $14,000 from Rangel in the 2007-08 election cycle: $10,000 from Rangel’s National Leadership PAC, and $4,000 from Rangel’s own campaign committee. (He also got $7,000 from Rangel’s committees in 2006, when he defeated incumbent Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.) That makes him one of well over 100 House Democrats who got money from Rangel in this cycle, and it’s clearly a drop in the $2.8 million bucket (as of Oct. 15) that McNerney had raised for his campaign against Republican challenger Dean Andal.

Many thought the 11th Congressional District race would be tight this year – a freshman Democrat in a district with a slight Republican registration edge. It wasn’t so tight after all; McNerney beat Andal with 55.3 percent of the vote. And the NRCC had tried to lay Rangel’s problems at McNerney’s feet back in September, and nobody cared.

It begs the question of why the NRCC is wasting electrons trying to smear McNerney with someone else’s alleged indiscretions now, almost a month after his victory. But I guess the NRCC doesn’t have much else to do with its time right now.

Posted on Monday, December 1st, 2008
Under: campaign finance, Dean Andal, General, Jerry McNerney, Nancy Pelosi | No Comments »

Poll shows McNerney over Andal by 11 points

A poll commissioned by KPIX CBS Channel 5 and just released in the past half hour shows 11th Congressional District Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton has an 11-point lead over Republican challenger Dean Andal of Stockton — 52 percent to 41 percent.

The poll — 650 likely voters surveyed Tuesday and Wednesday by SurveyUSA, with a 3.9-percentage-point margin of error — found McNerney leads Andal by only two points among men but has an 18 point lead among women. It also found McNerney leads by five points among voters ages 18 to 49; by 17 points among voters age 50 and over; by “single digits” among white voters and by “double digits” among minority voters. And the poll found McNerney leads by 11 points among those who said they’d already voted; early voting began Oct. 6.

The 11th District is the Bay Area’s only truly competitive House race, and one of only a few in California; as of last month, its registered voters were 41.3 percent Republicans, 38.4 percent Democrats and 16.7 percent declining to state any party affiliation.

“The results of the KPIX poll are encouraging and prove that what we’ve been doing – focusing on the needs and concerns of people in the district, tackling the issues important to the middle class like the economy, energy and honoring our veterans – is what’s matters to people,” McNerney said in a statement issued a few moments ago. “With just under three weeks to go until Election Day, I’ll continue to be out on the trail every day meeting with voters and working with grassroots volunteers from across the district who are spreading our positive message.”

I haven’t heard back from Andal’s camp yet; I’ll update this when I do.

UPDATE @ 6:50 P.M.: “We have no idea how this poll was conducted, so we can’t comment on it’s validity,” Andal spokesman Richard Temple says. “But our polling shows the race much tighter, and we’re confident that by Election Day, when voters see the difference between Andal and McNerney on the major issues they care about — taxes, earmarks and wasteful government spending, energy, and support for our troops in combat — voters will make the right decision.”

Posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2008
Under: Dean Andal, Elections, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | No Comments »

Jerry McNerney, Dean Andal field ethics barbs

California’s 11th Congressional District race between freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and Republican challenger Dean Andal of Stockton was never a cordial affair, but it took a rapid series of ugly turns today.

First a blogger at the progressive Democratic Calitics noted that despite Andal’s vow that he wouldn’t have his campaign staffers track McNerney with video cameras at public events, his campaign manager, John Franklin, might’ve done exactly that at the candidates’ debate Saturday in Tracy.

Andal campaign spokesman Richard Temple replied there’s a big difference between tracking a candidate at every public gathering, as McNerney’s campaign has – “We think it’s stupid, Dean’s kind of bemused by it” – and finding a campaign manager with a camera in his hands at the first and only debate between the candidates. “Obviously we had people there, Franklin was there, but we’re not following him (McNerney) around.”

Then the California Democratic Party later today issued a statement calling on Andal to cancel his fundraiser tonight with Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs. The Dems noted Andal at the candidates’ debate last week had “launched a series of vicious personal attacks” against McNerney “by repeatedly saying that McNerney’s votes in Congress on funding for the Iraq war were ‘immoral,’ ” yet Bono Mack also voted four times against bills to fund military operations in Iraq. “Will Dean Andal confront Congresswoman Bono Mack about her ‘immoral’ votes? Or will Andal just look the other way, take the money and run?”

Temple said “the fact of tying a timetable for withdrawal to whether or not they (troops) get their money is immoral” but Bono Mack could’ve had other, valid reasons for voting against the bills that didn’t involve “using soldiers as pawns in your political game.” Temple said Andal “likes Congresswoman Bono Mack quite a bit and they respect each other,” and isn’t likely to cancel a fundraiser with her on the Democratic Party’s say-so.

The National Republican Congressional Committee fired back on Andal’s behalf today, issuing a news release questioning the McNerney campaign’s ties to Fletcher-Rowley-Chao-Riddle Inc., a Democrat political consulting firm caught up in the scandal around Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Fla. It seems Mahoney paid off a woman with whom he had an affair, and promised that woman a job with FRCR as part of a legal settlement; FRCR says it had to knowledge of any such deal, and has now severed all ties with Mahoney.

But the NRCC disputes FRCR’s claim it didn’t know about the cover-up. “With his consultant and colleague embroiled in a front-page ethics scandal, Jerry McNerney’s failure to distance himself from these shocking allegations speaks volumes about his character,” NRCC spokesman Brendan Buck said in the release. “Unless McNerney condones these reprehensible actions by his strategist and his fellow congressman, he should immediately end his relationship with FRCR and denounce these immoral and potentially illegal practices.”

Responded McNerney campaign spokesman Andy Stone: “There’s not an ounce of truth to it. Honestly, they don’t work for this campaign.”

Campaign finance reports show McNerney’s campaign paid FRCR $5,000 on April 17, 2007 and $20,000 on July 29, 2008 for media consulting. “But if you look closely at the report you’ll note that it’s all outstanding debt from the ’06 campaign,” Stone said.

UPDATE @ 3:50 P.M.: I couldn’t spot it before, but now I do see where McNerney had listed outstanding debt to FRCR as a “win bonus” from the 2006 election cycle.

Posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2008
Under: campaign finance, Dean Andal, Elections, General, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | No Comments »

McNerney outraises Andal in third quarter

Third-quarter fundraising reports show Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, kept on out-raising and out-spending his Republican challenger, Dean Andal of Stockton, in California’s 11th Congressional District race.

McNerney’s report shows he raised $601,851.63 in the third quarter, for a total of $2,743,057.42 raised in this election cycle. He spent $957,901.95 in the third quarter, leaving him with $1,022,121.33 as of Sept. 30, the report says.

Andal’s report shows he raised $348,062 in the third quarter, for a total of $1,150,957.03 raised in this election cycle. He spent $195,081.44 in the third quarter, leaving him with $849,727.75 as of Sept. 30, the report says.

Andal issued a news release earlier today saying it feels great to know he has so many supporters, “and with the election only a couple of weeks out, we’re continuing to garner strong support – in both voices and fundraising. … (T)hanks to my supporters and their generous contributions, we have the resources to end this campaign on a very strong note.”

But truth is, he’s still at something of a competitive disadvantage. And as my colleague Lisa Vorderbrueggen noted in her blog earlier today, it looks as if the National Republican Congressional Committee well has run dry for Andal and other challengers as the national GOP turns its attention to protecting its endangered incumbents.

UPDATE @ 11:07 P.M.: Richard Temple, Andal’s consultant/spokesman, says I “missed the mark” with this post:

We enter the last month of the campaign with virtually the same cash on hand as the incumbent at the precise time when voters will be making up their minds. I doubt that McNerney is pleased knowing we have significant resources and issues to use against him. And if the DCCC comes in with a lot of money at the end, it will be water overflowing a bucket. They can outspend us 2-1 and it won’t make a difference as long as we have enough resources to get an effective message out — and we do. The shorter the time frame, the less that volume of spending makes a difference in campaign — after a certain amount voters tune campaigns out. McNerney squandered his early financial advantage and we enter the last month within striking distance, with enough resources to get our message out, stronger issues in our favor, and a good district. I’ll take our chances. Watch this race closely and see what happens.

UPDATE @ 2:24 P.M. THURSDAY: From McNerney campaign spokesman Andy Stone: “Richard Temple may be feeling lucky, but he probably shouldn’t hit the tables at Cache Creek just yet.”

Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2008
Under: campaign finance, Dean Andal, Elections, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | No Comments »

And, Jerry McNerney’s newest TV ads

Hot on the heels of Republican challenger Dean Andal’s new television commercial, Rep. Jerry McNerney uncorked two of his own today:

McNerney will be pressing the latter ad’s pro-woman theme with a women-to-women phone banking effort at 6 p.m. this Thursday at his campaign headquarters. Clearly he wants that soccer-mom demographic on his side… perhaps he’s worried about Andal riding Sarah Palin’s coattails?

Anyhow, my esteemed colleague Lisa Vorderbrueggen fact-checked some of these allegations last month. She found Andal was listed as a “no” vote against a bill to let prosecutors to pursue legal rape charges in cases where the woman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol; Andal spokesman Richard Temple told her this was merely a clerical error, and he actually supported the bill. She found Andal had voted against a bill stripping employers of the ability to prohibit females from wearing slacks to work; Temple noted that didn’t mean Andal believed all women should have to wear skirts or dresses to work, but merely that employers should be able to set workplace dress codes. And she found Andal while on the Board of Equalization had voted for a policy that led to lower property assessments for utilities, telecommunications, pipeline and railroad companies.

Posted on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
Under: Dean Andal, Elections, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | No Comments »

Dean Andal’s newest TV commercial

Here it is; just push the “play” button:

For those late to the party, Dean Andal is the Republican businessman and former Assemblyman from Stockton who’s challenging freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, for his 11th Congressional District seat.

I wrote about the earmark issue last month, and even found a few more cases in which McNerney had gained campaign contributions from executives of companies for whom he championed federal spending. Spokesman Andy Stone at the time noted McNerney has never made a secret of his earmarks — he releases a complete list every year — and “(t)he (EDO Corp.) project in question is an important one because it means not only jobs for local residents, but also radar for Navy combat ships.”

I guess we’ll see how the voters feel about it.

Posted on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
Under: Dean Andal, Elections, General, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | No Comments »

Political Haiku, Vol. 5

Has it really been three months since last I did this? Shame on me.

McCain discusses
ACORN, Ayers as Dow drops;
Rome burns, he fiddles.

Pay for inmate health,
Judge now tells California.
Years late, still we balk.

A fine governor
Jerry Brown could make again,
Schwarzenegger says.

No stance before vote,
Andal blasts McNerney’s call.
A bailout “gotcha?”

Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dean Andal, Elections, General, haiku, Jerry Brown, Jerry McNerney, John McCain, State Prisons | No Comments »

McNerney’s and Andal’s smelly money

I got a news release this morning from the National Republican Congressional Committee noting Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, has given away to charity $5,000 he received from the leadership PAC of Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., who is under investigation for alleged ethics violations:

Hoping he could get away with keeping Rangel’s money, all eyes are on fellow Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) who is still standing by the scandal-scarred Congressman. So how much longer will Jerry McNerney hold out?

The still mounting evidence of Rangel’s infractions is overwhelming and the voters will not forget that Jerry McNerney chose to endorse the status quo and turn a blind eye to corruption. Just last week McNerney voted to kill a resolution that would have convened a House Ethics Committee investigation to look into Rangel’s mounting scandals (House Roll Call 609).

It might be a stretch to say “all eyes” are on McNerney – he’s one of almost 100 Democratic House members or candidates who have accepted donations from Rangel’s PAC in this election cycle, and the NRCC is sending these releases to media in any of those districts deemed competitive.

Also, it’s true that McNerney voted to table House Minority Leader John Boehner’s H.Res.1460, which not only would’ve convened a House Ethics Committee investigative subcommittee to probe Rangel’s doings but also would’ve instantly removed Rangel as House Ways and Means chairman. The vote was 226-176, with five Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with Democrats in favor of tabling the resolution.

Truth is, Rangel by then already had requested an Ethics Committee investigation and pledged his cooperation, and Boehner hasn’t been so quick to demand action on GOP members facing ethical questions.

But that doesn’t change the fact that McNerney’s campaign has accepted $10,000 from Rangel’s PAC this cycle – just as his Republican challenger, Dean Andal, has received $5,000 from the Future Leaders PAC run by California’s own Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, and $1,000 from the Midnight Sun PAC run by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. Both Lewis and Young reportedly are under federal criminal investigation for influence peddling; both Lewis and Young have resisted calls for them to step down from key committee posts. And in a less direct parallel, Andal’s campaign has received $5,000 from the Rely on Your Beliefs PAC run by House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, who through that same PAC had controversial ties to disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and imprisoned former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Potentially dirty money is never good, but hypocritical, canned outrage isn’t so great, either.

Posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008
Under: campaign finance, Dean Andal, Elections, Jerry McNerney, John Boehner, U.S. House | No Comments »

Are Jerry McNerney’s earmarks bad or good?

Jon Fleischman, a political consultant and state GOP vice chairman who runs the conservative blog, has launched a “One Term is Enough” Web site characterizing Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, as “the poster boy for special interest hypocrisy.”

Showcased there now is a piece on how McNerney’s campaign has accepted $9,500 from the EDO Corp. Political Action Committee, and how McNerney brought in a $1 million earmark for EDO “for electronic warfare concept demonstrator for the Littoral Combat Ship.” EDO, which merged last December with ITT Corp., was East Coast-based but has a facility in Morgan Hill, within McNerney’s 11th Congressional District.

“That’s right. McNerney took money from New York-based special interests and then just two days later requested an $800,000 taxpayer funded earmark for the same company,” Fleischman wrote on his Web site, not mentioning the company’s local facility. “McNerney has learned Washington’s special interest ways; he just isn’t very good at hiding it.”

Fleischman, for the record, says he has no affiliation whatsoever with the campaign of Dean Andal, the Republican nominee challenging McNerney in November’s election. “I’m just fired up and I’ve had enough of McNerney trying to posture himself as some sort of moderate centrist when he’s really voting with Nancy Pelosi all the time,” Fleischman told me today.

Well, I’ve found that Pleasanton’s Corrina, Helmuth and Stephanie Meissner – the president; founder/chief technological officer; and CEO, respectively, at Dublin-based Onyx Optics Inc.gave McNerney’s campaign a total of $3,750 in May, while Onyx Optics senior scientist Huai-Chuan Lee of Albany donated $500 in June. McNerney sponsored a $2 million earmark for Onyx Optics “for manufacturing technology development of advanced components for high power solid-state lasers.”

Furthermore, CPU Technology chief scientist Gail Walters has given McNerney $2,500 in this election cycle while vice president Richard Kessinger has given $1,500. Pleasanton-based CPU Technology makes microprocessor-based electronic systems used in defense technology, and with global defense/aerospace giant BAE Systems got a $2 million McNerney-sponsored earmark “for virtual simulation and modernization of (the) Bradley Fighting Vehicle.” CPU Technology got a $47 million contract from BAE in June.

But, as noted in the USA Today article from last December which Fleischman cites:

Money follows power. Political action committees and executives of at least 20 companies that received defense contracts through earmarks shifted their political donations this year from defeated Republican incumbents to their Democratic replacements, a USA TODAY analysis found.

“This is less a partisan issue as it is a power issue,” says Steve Ellis of the non-partisan budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Some of these companies, they’re going to support whoever’s got the ability to deliver the goods.”

Indeed, the article notes EDO’s PAC gave $6,000, and I see CPU Technology’s PAC gave $3,500, to McNerney’s Republican predecessor, Richard Pombo of Tracy, in the last election. And in this cycle, EDO’s PAC has given more than $106,000 to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

I guess you could look at it simply as McNerney scoring handouts for moneyed special interests, or you could see it as McNerney bringing federal funds to his district’s appreciative contractors.

“Congressman McNerney was proud to push for major ethics and earmark reform as one of his first acts in Congress,” spokesman Andy Stone told me today. “And he was one of the first members of Congress to release his entire list of project requests for the world to see. The (EDO Corp.) project in question is an important one because it means not only jobs for local residents, but also radar for Navy combat ships.”

McNerney has never made a secret of his earmarks; he announces them each year (2007, 2008). And considering California is a “donor state,” getting back about 79 cents on every dollar it sends to the federal treasury, some East Bay politicians are very proud of whatever money they can bring in for their districts’ businesses and agencies.

Thoughts, anyone?

Posted on Friday, September 19th, 2008
Under: campaign finance, Dean Andal, Elections, General, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 2 Comments »