Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'Ami Bera' Category

Three NorCal House Dems vote for Upton bill

Reps. Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi and Ami Bera were among 39 House Democrats who joined with most Republicans to pass a controversial bill Friday that would let insurers keep selling policies which fall short of the new healthcare law’s standards and consumer protections.

H.R. 3350 by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., would not only let people with insurance that doesn’t meet the new law’s standards keep it through 2014, but it would also let new customers buy such policies too. The House approved the bill 261-157, but the bill faces a tougher time in the Democrat-led Senate and President Obama has vowed to veto it.

Most Democrats say the Upton bill basically guts the new law, disrupting the risk pools that make individual insurance sold on the new health benefit exchanges affordable for most Americans.

A spokeswoman for McNerney, D-Stockton, didn’t reply to an e-mail and a phone call Friday.

Matthew Kravitz, a spokesman for Garamendi, D-Fairfield, said Obama and House members on both sides of the aisle “all agree that the fact that so many plans are being dropped is an issue of concern.”

“Congressman Garamendi has always said that every law, including the Affordable Care Act, can be improved,” Kravitz said. “Congressman Garamendi voted for the Democratic plan to fix this problem, and he also voted for the Republican plan. The Upton bill has flaws, but by bringing the issue to the Senate, Garamendi hopes the Senate will take up their own legislation and both chambers, in a bicameral bipartisan fashion, can hash out a compromise during a conference committee.”

Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, issued this statement:

“I voted for the Keep Your Plan Act today so that all Sacramento County families have the individual choice to keep their insurance if it is working for them.

“That being said, I encourage Californians to explore their options on California’s new health insurance marketplace, Covered California, where families are likely to find plans that offer better coverage, for less money. California’s website is working, and health plans in the marketplace offer more patient protections and assistance to help pay for insurance, which isn’t available under existing plans.

“The bipartisan passage of today’s bill, and the President’s new proposal to let Americans keep their current coverage through 2014, are important steps in the right direction. As a doctor and the former Chief Medical Officer of Sacramento County, I am committed to bringing down the cost of health care and will keep working to fix parts of the Affordable Care Act that aren’t working for the American people.”

All three Democrats hold what could be described as swing districts. The Cook Political Report, a renowned prognosticator of elections, rates McNerney’s 9th Congressional District and Garamendi’s 3rd Congressional District as “likely Democrat,” meaning they’re not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged. But Cook rates Bera’s 7th Congressional District as a toss-up in which either party has a good chance of winning.

Elizabeth Emken, one of three Republicans seeking to unseat Bera next year, issued a statement saying Bera is trying to mask his support of an unpopular law.

“Regardless of his vote today, Ami Bera has continually defended Obamacare and all the problems it has caused while voting to keep it the law of the land,” she said. “Bera’s votes have put over 1 million Californians in danger of losing their health care. He can claim he was ‘concerned’ all he wants, but his voting record tells the painful truth – Ami Bera approved of Obamacare, and now he is trying to distance himself from its disastrous effects.”

Health insurers are discontinuing individual-market policies that don’t meet the standards set forth in the nation’s new law. Those receiving such notices are being offered new policies by their insurers, but also can go to the Covered California website to shop around for the best deal and to determine whether they’re eligible for subsidies.

Posted on Friday, November 15th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, healthcare reform, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 12 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 »

Calif. House members: ‘Stop fighting, start fixing’

Eight California lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were among more than 50 House members who gathered today in Washington, D.C., to urge congressional leaders and President Obama to “stop fighting and start fixing.”

Organized by the bipartisan group No Labels, the lawmakers who assembled in the Cannon House Office Building’s caucus room agreed leaders mustn’t let the nation default on its debt.

“The No Labels Problem Solvers and other members of Congress you see here today are ready to work together and support our respective leaderships in a bipartisan solution to the government shutdown and other crucial issues facing our country,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. “Let’s show some courage and work together like the American people expect and deserve.”

Among those at the event were Reps. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; Tony Cardenas, D-Arleta; Jim Costa, D-Fresno; Susan Davis, D-San Diego; Jeff Denham, R-Modesto; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; Scott Peters, D-San Diego; and David Valadao, R-Hanford.


NoLabels

“The costs of the government shutdown are growing every day, and experts from all sides agree that failing to pay America’s bills would be disastrous for our economy,” Bera said in a news release. “It’s past time for us to stop blaming one another, and start talking about how to move forward for the good of the country. This is not about Democrats or Republicans; it’s about putting the American people before politics. Many of us are ready to begin working and solving our nation’s problems, but we need leadership that lets us do that work.”

Posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, Jeff Denham, Sam Farr, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Which House members are refusing their pay?

Some Californians are among a growing list of House members who say they won’t take their paychecks while the government shutdown remains in effect.

Eric SwalwellMembers of Congress will receive their monthly paychecks even during a shutdown such as this. But Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, announced Monday he had sent a letter to the House’s chief administrative officer requesting that he not be paid.

“I believe it is simply wrong and unfair for me to receive my salary while Americans working hard across the country as part of our federal workforce receive nothing until this appropriations crisis is resolved,” he wrote. “Therefore, I ask that until federal employees who must work during a federal government shutdown are paid, I not be given my paycheck.”

Ami_Bera_official_photoRep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, said Tuesday he’ll give up his federal pay for the duration of the shutdown, too.

“Congress should lead by example and put people before politics,” Bera said in a news release. “If Congress can’t do its job and put the American people first, then they certainly shouldn’t get paid during a crisis that they are causing. We must stop the finger pointing, start acting like adults, and make Washington work for the people again.”

In response to the budget sequestration cuts made earlier this year, Bera already has been donating 8.2 percent of his check each month to a local organization impacted by the cuts.

And John Myers, political editor at Sacramento’s KXTV News 10, tweeted today that Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, told him he’ll be forfeiting his paycheck during the shutdown as well. As of this hour, I don’t see that John’s interview with Denham has been posted online.

The Washington Post is keeping a national list.

Posted on Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, Eric Swalwell, Jeff Denham, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

WHO exactly is ‘making it happen,’ Mrs. Emken?

Elizabeth Emken – last year’s unsuccessful challenger to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein – sent out a fundraising plea Tuesday saying her 2014 House race has become a toss-up.

And that’s true – but it has little to do with her.

Emken, 50, moved from Danville to Fair Oaks this summer in order to mount a campaign against freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova. Here’s an excerpt from the fundraising solicitation she e-mailed out Wednesday:

Elizabeth Emken“We are making it happen! Last week, the respected Cook Political Report moved the race for California’s 7th Congressional District from ‘Lean Democrat’ to ‘Toss Up.’

“This is great momentum for our campaign and it’s in large part because of you and so many other supporters who’ve given contributions as small as $7 to the maximum amount of $2,600 – every bit matters.

“As the Republican nominee against Dianne Feinstein last year, we knew it was an uphill battle and even though Senator Feinstein outspent us 10-1, I pulled 45% of the vote in the 7th District.

“Liberal Congressman Ami Bera knows how strong I ran in the 7th and now he’s on the run – and Washington Insiders are taking notice.”

Cook did indeed move the 7th Congressional District race from “lean Democrat” to “toss-up.”

“In California’s 7th CD, the entry of former GOP Rep. Doug Ose, as expected, gives freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera his strongest opponent yet,” Cook political analyst and House editor Dave Wasserman wrote ni explaining the change last Thursday, two days after Ose declared his candidacy.

Posted on Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Ami Bera, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Bera probes Hagel on Syria; Boxer votes to attack

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made the Obama administration’s case for bombing Syria to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

The committee has no Bay Area members; Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, is the only member from Northern California, and here’s how he began questioning Hagel:

“It is of critical importance that we are having this discussion. I applaud the President for including Congress in this debate. I agree that we have to show resolve and we have to show that we are committed to our allies, but my constituents and I still need to be convinced, not that atrocities occurred — we all are unanimous in our condemnation of what Assad has done — but we need to know exactly what our goals are and our objectives, because this is increasingly a complex situation.

“And to that extent, let me ask Secretary Hagel a question. When I was home in Sacramento County this past weekend people were stopping me in the grocery store, my neighbors were pulling me aside on the street. I think all of my colleagues have been inundated with phone calls, emails, and almost unanimously, people don’t want us to strike Syria. They’re fatigued. And I answer to these people. These are the people that I represent. My question, Secretary Hagel, is what can I tell my constituents about why these strikes are in our national security interest, why these strikes matter to these folks that are struggling every day? How do I effectively communicate what the plan is?”

Watch their full exchange here:

Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 – and not along party lines – on Wednesday to approve a resolution authorizing limited military force against Syria. The resolution is significantly narrow than that which the president had proposed: It would limit hostilities to 90 days, allow military action only within Syria’s borders and prohibit putting any U.S. troops on Syrian soil.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. – who had said Tuesday that she would “support a targeted effort but not a blank check to respond to Syria’s unspeakable deeds to gas its own people to death” – voted for the resolution by proxy today; she was absent due to the imminent start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, at sundown tonight.

Posted on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, Barbara Boxer, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 5 Comments »

Which House member has most campaign cash?

Which of Northern California’s House members has the most money in their campaign war chests? You might be surprised.

While some incumbents are likely to face significant challenges from across the aisle (like Garamendi, Bera, McNerney and Denham) and others from within their own party (like Honda and maybe Swalwell), neither of the two House members with the most cash on hand as of June 30 are expected to have much to worry about next year.

Here’s the list, showing how much they raised in the second quarter (April 1 through June 30) and their cash on hand at mid-year:

    CA5 – Mike Thompson, D-Napa: $257,579.45 raised, $1,470,170.24 COH
    CA14 – Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough: $221,762 raised, $1,086,141.98 COH
    CA10 – Jeff Denham, R-Modesto: $506,491.26 raised, $834,836.30 COH
    CA19 – Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: $149,546.50 raised, $658,386 COH
    CA7 – Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova: $264,318.49 raised, $505,044 COH
    CA12 – Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco: $315,769.05 raised, $422,059.25 COH
    CA15 – Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton: $237,314.38 raised, $405,182.23 COH
    CA4 – Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay: $132,668.99 raised, $384,717.76 COH
    CA17 – Mike Honda, D-San Jose: $344,894.86 raised, $374,646.94 COH
    CA6: Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento: $240,826.01 raised, $371,894.30 COH
    CA18 – Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: $193,225 raised, $363,855.25 COH
    CA11 – George Miller, D-Martinez: $233,328.87 raised, $354,655.16 COH
    CA2 – Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: $141,648.93 raised, $266,847.38 COH
    CA16 – Jim Costa, D-Merced: $131,765 raised, $243,693.64 COH
    CA9 – Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton: $169,311.47 raised, $187,041.28 COH
    CA20 – Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz: $187,242.31 raised, $136,571.50 COH
    CA1 – Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville: $87,200 raised, $130,603.76 COH
    CA3 – John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove: $179,832.73 raised, $124,197.06 COH
    CA13 – Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: $178,425.82 raised, $97,975.47 COH

Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Ami Bera, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, campaign finance, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 5 Comments »

House members blast Brown’s Delta water plan

Five members of Congress held a news conference in Sacramento this morning to renew their staunch opposition to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Napa; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; and Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, all believe the plan would devastate the Delta and ignores concerns repeatedly raised by local stakeholders. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, concurs but wasn’t at today’s news conference.

The state has released a 20,000-page Administrative Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the BDCP. Chapters 1-7 were released in the last few months and Chapters 8-12, including the financing mechanism, were released yesterday.

The lawmakers released statements after their news conference. From McNerney:

Jerry McNerney“The Governor recently released additional information on his deeply-flawed plan for the Delta region, which further proves he is intent on forcing this plan forward without any regard for the farmers, families and small business owners who rely upon a healthy Delta for their livelihoods, or for the incredible environmental damage that will result. As it stands, the plan will cost billions of dollars, devastate the most valuable water resource we have in California, and ultimately create no new water. There is a better way forward, and it must include the input of the people who stand to lose the most if the Delta is destroyed.”

From Thompson:

Mike Thompson“The proposed BDCP is not a workable solution. It puts the interests of South-of-Delta water contractors ahead of the Delta’s and North-of-Delta’s farmers, fishers and small business owners. Livelihoods are at stake. Until we have a plan that is transparent, based on sound science and developed with all stake-holders at the table, then any process that moves us closer to building these tunnels will recklessly risk billions of California tax dollars and thousands of jobs. Let’s take the time to get this right.”

From Miller:

George Miller“Governor Brown and his administration officials have failed to demonstrate that they are taking into account the real physical and financial harm that can come to Bay-Delta communities if a BDCP plan is pushed through without the proper cost benefit analysis of alternatives, an adequate finance plan, or without acknowledging the best available science — science that has pointed to the real possibility that this plan could overtax our water resources and devastate the Bay-Delta region. Without doing so the BDCP is further than ever from a sustainable policy. It is time to seriously reevaluate this plan to ensure it fulfills the co-equal goals that it is mandated to adhere to, and takes into consideration the concerns of the businesses, families and communities that rely on a viable, healthy Bay-Delta region for their livelihoods.”

Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, George Miller, Jerry Brown, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, U.S. House, water | 3 Comments »

NorCal House Dems knock Obamacare repeal vote

The House voted 229-195 today to repeal the “Obamacare” federal health care reforms enacted in 2010 – the 37th time that Republicans have tried to repeal or eliminate funding for the law.

The only two Democrats to vote for H.R. 45 were Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, both of whom represent districts with heavy numbers of Republican voters yet are deemed “lean Democratic” – not “toss up” – by the Cook Political Report. No Republicans opposed the bill.

Like its predecessors, this effort is DOA in the Democrat-dominated U.S. Senate. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, spoke in defense of the vote:

“Today the House is voting to repeal the president’s health care law because it’s increasing the cost of health insurance, reducing access to care, and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers. This is the third full repeal vote that we’ve had in the last three years, and some critics have suggested it’s a waste of time.

“Well, while our goal is to repeal all of ObamaCare, I would remind you that the president has signed into law seven different bills that repealed or defunded parts of that law. Is it enough? No. Full repeal is needed to keep this law from doing more damage to our economy and raising health care costs.

“But some progress has been made, and Republicans will continue to work to scrap the law in its entirety so we can focus on patient-centered reforms that lower costs and protect jobs. Because jobs is what this is all about.”

Northern California’s House Democrats were – shocker! – having none of it. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, smack-talked the vote at her weekly news conference:

“Here we are, 134 days into the 113th Congress, without one vote on a jobs bill. Fifty-four days after the Senate passed its budget, we still haven’t moved forward to the budget process with this do nothing agenda that does not reflect the priorities of the American people. It is an agenda that only the Republicans are interested in pursuing. So, you see a series of subterfuges, job evasions. Today’s job evasion is that the Republicans have decided to vote on the Patient’s Rights Repeal Act, their 37th attempt to repeal our country’s landmark reform bill. That’s 37 votes, 43 days, $52 million – $52.4 million – on an obvious evasion of our responsibility to work on the priorities of the American people.

“Not only is this a clear waste of time, and of taxpayer dollars, it is a deliberate vote to eliminate the affordable, quality health care benefits millions of Americans are already enjoying.”

Here’s Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton:

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, called it “a shameful waste of time and taxpayer dollars.”

“Instead of spending more than $50 million to repeal a law that is saving lives and money, we should be working to improve our healthcare system and expand on the benefits the law provides,” Thompson said. “It’s time to put these political games aside. By building on the reforms made in the Affordable Care Act, we can make sure every American can afford to go to the doctor. And that’s what matters.”

And Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, said Americans “want Congress to focus on jobs, not waste time and taxpayer money voting 37 times to take away patient protections from middle class families.

“The Supreme Court has ruled, and ACA is now law. It’s not perfect, and it’s not the law I would have proposed because it doesn’t do enough to address the cost of care, but we don’t want to go back to a time when children faced discrimination due to pre-existing conditions, when students and young adults were kicked off their parents’ insurance, and when women had to pay more for insurance than men just because of their gender,” he said. “Now we need to move past partisan bickering and start working on ways we can drive healthcare costs down. For years, we’ve been paying more and more for healthcare, and getting less and less. As a doctor and former Chief Medical Officer for Sacramento County, I know there are many places we can find savings.”

Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, Eric Swalwell, healthcare reform, John Boehner, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

State GOP files complaints vs. Ami Bera, Raul Ruiz

The California Republican Party has asked the Federal Election Commission whether two California congressmen, their campaigns and a Democratic super PAC violated federal law by having the congressmen appear in the PAC’s video.

But an election-law expert says it’s a weak case, and the House Majority PAC says state GOP chairman “Tom Del Beccaro’s swan song amounts to a baseless, politically-motivated complaint not worth the paper it’s printed on.”

“This laughable effort is the period at the end of the sentence that defines Del Beccaro’s embarrassing term as GOP party chair,” PAC spokesman Andy Stone said Wednesday.

The House Majority PAC’s recent video featured members of Congress including freshmen Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, and Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Springs, thanking the PAC for its involvement in their 2012 campaigns.

“We were grateful to see House Majority PAC formed so we could actually have allies on our side that were helping us get our message out,” Bera said in the video. “That in many ways was the difference in the outcome and one of the big reasons why we won this time.”

“When we got word that Darth Vader himself, Karl Rove, and the Crossroads was coming in and you had to recruit the team to fight back that Death Star,” Ruiz said in the video. “We fought back, and we won.”

Text at the video’s end invites viewers to visit the PAC’s website “to learn more about our work and join our efforts.” The video also carries disclaimers noting the House members are “not asking for funds or donations.”

In letters (Bera, Ruiz) sent to the FEC, Del Beccaro notes that “committees that solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, political committees, corporations and labor organizations for the purpose of making independent expenditures are prohibited from making direct contributions to federal political committees. The FEC defines a ‘contribution’ to include ‘any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by a person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office’ (emphasis added).”

The complaints say the cost of creating the video is an in-kind contribution to Bera’s and Ruiz’s campaigns – a contribution House Majority PAC is prohibited from making, and Bera and Ruiz are prohibited from taking. (Remember, super PACs can’t give directly to candidates – they can merely work on a candidate’s behalf, so long as their work is independent and not coordinated with the candidate’s campaign.)

The FEC in 2011 split 3-3 on whether there was a problem with comparable situation involving U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

“Nevertheless, it takes the affirmative vote of four commissioners to pursue an enforcement action. I don’t see four votes on the commission agreeing with the California GOP’s interpretation of the law,” Paul Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., said Wednesday.

Ryan said the FEC “has a fairly detailed (yet ineffective) regulation” on whether a public communication such as the House Majority PAC video constitutes an in-kind contribution. To qualify as such, the ad must meet both prongs of a two-prong test—the “content” prong and the “conduct” prong, he said.

“The House Majority PAC video clearly meets the ‘conduct’ prong, because the officeholders were directly and materially involved in filming the video,” Ryan said.

But for ads distributed more than 90 days before a House/Senate election or more than 120 days before a Presidential election, the “content” prong is only met by ads that contain campaign materials produced by the candidate, or by ads that expressly advocate the election or defeat of the candidate.

“The House Majority PAC video seemingly contains neither,” Ryan said. “It appears that the PAC produced the entire video (i.e., no candidate materials were used), and the video does not expressly advocate any candidate’s election. On the contrary, the video is all about officeholders expressly advocating the value/importance of the PAC.”

The content standards are more easily met during the 90 days right before a congressional election, Ryan noted: Even identifying a specific candidate in such a video during that time period would run afoul of the rules. But released after the election as this video was, it seems above-board.

Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, campaign finance, U.S. House | No Comments »