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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.

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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?”

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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.

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Are Jerry McNerney’s earmarks bad or good?

Jon Fleischman, a political consultant and state GOP vice chairman who runs the conservative FlashReport.org 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?

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Dean Andal to meet with Minutemen in Dublin

The Golden Gate Minutemen and Castro Valley Minutemen — grassroots anti-illegal-immigration activists who take their name from the Minuteman Project, sometimes-armed citizens’ patrols which began monitoring the U.S.-Mexico border in 2005, earning praise as patriots from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a panning as vigilantes from President George W. Bush — are meeting tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 20) morning with 11th Congressional District Republican nominee Dean Andal, who they say has been “sympathetic and supportive,” according to their e-mail.

“We thank Dean for his support and his zero tolerance against Sanctuary Cities and Illegal Invasion,” the e-mail says. “He will meet with us and discuss our mutual interests and plans for Restoring the Republic. Please come & greet Dean. Dean has arranged a special meeting for us to answer any and all questions. Minutemen and Patriots in Alameda County can’t miss this!”

They’re convening the Q&A at the Bagel Street Cafe, 4101 Dublin Blvd. in Dublin, at 11 a.m., and afterward intend to do some precinct-walking for the candidate. Andal, a former Assemblyman and former Board of Equalization member from Stockton, is challenging freshman incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.

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Questions over Dean Andal’s fundraising claim

There’s an article on PolitickerCA.com in which Dean Andal — the Republican former Assemblyman and former Board of Equalization member from Stockton who’s challenging freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton — insists his campaign, beset by reports of lackluster fundraising and a probe into a development deal in which he was a lobbyist, is doing just fine.

“No challenger in the country has raised as much money as we have,” the article quoted Andal as having said yesterday.

Andal had raised $829,184 as of June 30 compared to McNerney’s $2,084,313.

I checked the Cook Political Report’s latest list of competitive House races, jotted down 27 races considered toss-ups, and eliminated nine of those which are open seats. Of the remaining 18 races in which someone’s taking on an incumbent, I found that 11 of those challengers — three Republicans and eight Democrats — had raised more money by June 30 than Andal’s $829,184 (which could have something to do with why Cook moved the McNerney-Andal race from “toss-up” to “lean Democratic” last month).

Richard Temple, a spokesman for Andal’s campaign, said Andal wasn’t correctly quoted. “I believe he is referring to cash on hand. As of the latest campaign finance reports Andal had over $400,000 more cash on hand than other Republican challengers in what the Cook Report deemed to be toss-up races (at mid-year).”

I asked PolitickerCA.com reporter Ben van der Meer about this, and he said Andal “did not mention cash on hand in our conversation at all.”

Temple also said Andal “talks about raising money locally, in his district; probably 80% percent of his money is coming from the district and Jerry McNerney is probably the reverse.” He added that Andal’s fundraising by now has surpassed $1 million, putting him right on target for meeting his goals. In fact, less than an hour after our conversation, Temple’s office issued a news release saying Andal had broken the million-dollar mark and has more than $800,000 cash on hand:

In addition to the area’s traditional donor base, a recent Andal direct mail fundraising appeal generated contributions from hundreds of new local donors.

“We’re bringing new people into the process,” said Andal. “And that’s very gratifying.”

As for who’s raising a higher percentage of his money from within the CA-11, I couldn’t find absolute numbers but it would appear — based on lists of top metro areas and top ZIP codes — that Andal has the edge.