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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.”


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.