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CA15: The year-end finance reports

Freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell raised about three times much as Democratic challenger Ellen Corbett in the final quarter of 2013, leaving him with about four times as much money banked for the 15th Congressional District campaign.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, raised $275,018 in 2013’s final quarter while spending $63,418; his campaign had $823,362 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $3,576 in outstanding debts. Corbett, the state Senate majority leader from San Leandro, raised $90,918 in the last quarter of 2013 – by far her best quarter to date – while spending $25,892; she had $208,658 as of Dec. 31 with no outstanding debts.

Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

Swalwell honors slain BART cop on House floor

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, honored slain BART Police Sgt. Tom Smith Jr. – who was killed by a fellow officer’s bullet during a search last week in Dublin – on the House floor Tuesday.

“There is no person more worthy of respect and tribute than he or she who lays down their own life while working to protect others.

“Today, it is with great sadness that I wish to honor Bay Area Rapid Transit Sgt. Thomas Smith, whose end of watch came too early when he was tragically killed on January 21 of this year.

“Sgt. Smith, known as Tommy to his family and friends, is from a law enforcement family that knows all too well the daily risks of wearing a badge and serving the community as a police officer. Sgt. Smith’s wife Kellie also works as a police officer, as do his two brothers, Ed and Pat. Also his brother-in-law, Todd. So aware were Sgt. Smith and his family of the personal danger they faced in their jobs, that they had a rule about what they would say to each other whenever they would leave each other’s company: Never say goodbye. You only tell each other, ‘be safe.’

“But Sgt. Smith is not a hero because of how he died. He is a hero because of how he lived. On the job, Sgt. Smith worked honorably every day, not just the day we lost him, to protect our community. But Sgt. Smith cared most about his family; nothing else was even a close second, as his own Lieutenant described earlier last week. Sgt. Smith took every opportunity to spend time with who he called his ‘girls:’ his wife Kellie and their 6 year-old daughter, Summer.

“May we always remember Sgt. Smith and how he lived so honorably for us. And may Sgt. Smith now watch over us from above, as he always did on Earth, to make sure all of us can ‘be safe.’”

Posted on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Under: Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | No Comments »

Pelosi bets on 49ers, talks smack about Panthers

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday announced her bet with Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., over this Sunday’s second-round playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers.

cheerwineIf the 49ers win, Hudson will send Pelosi Bojangles chicken, Lance crackers, and Cheerwine; if the Panthers win, Pelosi will send Hudson some San Francisco sourdough bread from Boudin’s Bakery and chocolate from Ghirardelli and TCHO.

“San Francisco’s legendary chocolate and sourdough aren’t going anywhere: the 49ers are going to flatten the Panthers,” Pelosi boasted. “I look forward to starting next week with a hearty meal of chicken, crackers, Cheerwine, and victory.”

“If Leader Pelosi is so desperate to taste some delicious southern food and Cheerwine that she would enter into a bet she is sure to lose, you have to wonder what they’re feeding those folks out on the West Coast,” Hudson countered. “But if she really wants to do this, I’ll gladly enjoy some San Francisco sweets every day next week while the Panthers are on their way to a conference championship.”

UPDATE @ 1:22 P.M.: Never to be outdone, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, has laid a similar bet with Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., albeit with better stakes (IMHO): Livermore wine versus Carolina barbecue.

“While I will work across the aisle, I will not work across the NFC,” Swalwell said. “My staff and I look forward to enjoying some Carolina BBQ next week after Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis destroy Cam Newton and his Panthers. Go Niners!”

I’d suggest, however, that neither quits his day job to pursue an acting career:

Posted on Friday, January 10th, 2014
Under: Eric Swalwell, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

And the military bands played on.

Military bands can once again perform at community events, thanks to an Bay Area congressman’s amendment that was signed into law last month.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, wrote a National Defense Authorization Act amendment to fix a bureaucratic problem at the Defense Department which had been preventing events from hosting military bands even when their sponsor agrees to pay the cost.

Marine Corps Band“The provision represents a common-sense solution to a needless, bureaucratic problem,” Swalwell said in a news release Monday. “My job as a legislator is to identify problems and find a solution – and we did so in this case without costing the taxpayer a dime. Residents in my congressional district will once again be able to enjoy the patriotic music of the military bands at the Pleasanton Scottish Games.”

Swalwell introduced his amendment after a Marine Corps veteran in his 15th Congressional District informed him that the Marine Band San Diego was prohibited from playing at the Scottish Games held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton over Labor Day weekend. The Caledonian Club would have fully funded the band’s costs as it had in years past.

The Defense Department earlier last year had changed its prior policy and stopped allowing military bands to perform at community events, claiming that reimbursements from sponsoring organizations were not going to its correct account.

Some critics might accuse Swalwell of letting the bands fiddle while Rome burns – the NDAA also continues the controversial policy enacted in 2012 that allows indefinite military detentions without charge or trial. Some opponents also said the bill authorizes too much military spending, particularly at a time when other government programs are being slashed.

Swalwell actually voted against the House version of the NDAA last June, as did every other Bay Area House member except for Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; he also voted against a compromise version of the bill on Dec. 12. President Obama signed it into law Dec. 27.

Spokeswoman Alison Bormel later Monday said Swalwell was “disappointed with the bills as a whole.”

“The Congressman thought the bills authorize more money than necessary for the Department of Defense, fail to adequately address the problem of sexual assault in the military, and inadvisably keep the Guantanamo Bay prison open,” she said. “He voted against the bills as he thought they were not in line with his constituents’ priorities.”

Posted on Monday, January 6th, 2014
Under: Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

House budget vote makes strange bedfellows

The House has voted 322-94 to approve the two-year budget deal hammered out by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

But the vote made for strange bedfellows: Two diametrically opposed Northern California House members I interviewed for last Sunday’s storyBarbara Lee and Tom McClintock – both voted against the deal, albeit for very different reasons.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)Lee, D-Oakland, said she couldn’t vote for a deal that doesn’t extend unemployment benefits beyond Dec. 28 for 1.3 million long-term jobless Americans.

“The least we can do for the millions of long-term unemployed who are struggling just to get by during this holiday season is to pass this three-month extension,” she said. “This budget does nothing for the millions of jobless people and asks nothing from the people who caused our economic crisis and continue to benefit from economic inequality. Please remember, this is not about showboating or statistics; we are talking about people’s lives. We are talking about people living on the edge. We are talking about 1.3 million people who will lose unemployment benefits during this holiday season. It is cruel. It is morally wrong, and it is economically stupid.”

Tom McClintockMcClintock, R-Granite Bay, says the deal undoes even what scant good sequestration had done for reducing the nation’s long-term debt and deficit. The most stinging indictment of the deal might come from former Reagan budget director David Stockman, McClintock said.

“His verdict is chilling: ‘It’s a joke and betrayal. It’s the final surrender of the House Republican leadership to Beltway politics and kicking the can and ignoring the budget monster that’s hurtling down the road.’” McClintock said. “The new Congressional budget is a mistake at a time when we can’t afford many more mistakes. The path of least resistance, even if paved with good intentions, is not a path America can afford to travel any longer.”

All other Bay Area House members voted for the deal.

In the hours before Thursday’s vote, Rep. Eric Swalwell had wrangled members of the bipartisan freshman United Solutions Caucus he helped found to urge the deal’s passage.

The 13 lawmakers – eight Democrats and five Republicans – who signed Swalwell’s statement noted the deal will give citizens and businesses a sense of fiscal stability that has been “sorely lacking of late,” and will replaces parts of the automatic sequester cuts while still reducing the long-term deficit.

“No agreement is perfect and there are aspects of the Ryan/Murray budget with which all of us disagree,” the statement reads. “But, that is what legislating in Congress is all about – cooperating to achieve an agreement which on balance would improve the lives of the American people. We encourage all Members to support this budget and help us take this step forward, together, in getting our fiscal house in order.”

Other signers of the statement included David Valadao, R-Hanford; and Scott Peters, D-San Diego.

Posted on Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Zoe Lofgren goes hungry for immigration reform

Rep. Zoe Lofgren started fasting Wednesday for one day in sympathy with the “Fast 4 Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.”

Lofgren, D-San Jose, cast her lot with a group of immigration reform advocates who’ve been fasting for more than 30 days on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Capitol in order to urge House Republicans to act. It’s part of a relay of sorts: Lofgren took up the fast from Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, and it’s unclear who’ll pick it up from Lofgren on Thursday.

“I’m humbled to join in fasting with these courageous people to demonstrate my shared commitment for comprehensive reform,” Lofgren said. “From left to right, a majority of Americans want to fix our broken immigration system because it does not reflect our values, it tears families apart and forces people to live in the shadows, and it holds our economy and country back. The American people are tired of excuses about why Congress cannot pass reform and I challenge my Republican friends in the House to set aside politics and join us in passing meaningful immigration reform.”

Lofgren is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, and for the past four years has worked with seven other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to craft an immigration reform bill. Republicans pulled out of those talks in September, scuttling the effort.

UPDATE @ 11:20 A.M. THURSDAY: Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, started his 24-hour fast yesterday too, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, starts his today. “My colleagues and I are joining this fast because we all know the system can – and must – be fixed,” Miller said. “Americans want and deserve an improved immigration system that reflects our values and Congress needs to deliver on that promise now.”

Posted on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
Under: Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Immigration, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »

Swalwell bill aims to help cities that lost RDAs

California cities that saw economic development projects sidelined or shelved when the state dissolved their redevelopment authorities would compete more easily for federal grants to fund those projects, under a new bill from Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Swalwell news conference 11-26-2013 (photo by Josh Richman)Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, held a news conference Tuesday morning at a huge empty lot along Post Street in Fremont’s Centerville area. A sprawling mixed-use “Artist Walk” development had been planned for the site, but tanked after state lawmakers and the governor did away with local redevelopment authorities in 2011 and seized their assets to help balance the state’s budget.

“There’s a reason we only see buildings in artists’ renderings and not in reality,” Swalwell said. “Localities can no longer raise adequate funds for redevelopment…. And it is my hope today that the federal government can fix it.”

Swalwell’s H.R. 3518, the “Restarting Local Economies Act of 2013,” doesn’t allocate any new federal funding. Rather, it changes rules for the Economic Development Administration’s Economic Adjustment Assistance program, which provides competitive grants for local redevelopment projects if they meet specific criteria related to challenges to their economy.

Swalwell’s bill would include the closure of a government entity – such as a redevelopment agency – as a specific example of an economic challenge to a region, letting California localities more easily compete for these grants.

“I hope we can do our part to make things a little bit easier,” he said, noting projects like the Artist Walk development would create jobs not only in construction but also in the businesses that could locate there.

But for now, it’s “welcome to Centerville, welcome to an empty lot,” quipped Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison. “We need to get people to work, we need affordable housing.”

Harrison said Fremont in the past used redevelopment authority funding to do grade improvement projects that cleared the way for BART’s extension into Santa Clara County, and to improve the Niles Town Plaza around that district’s historic train station.

Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci said an easier path to federal grants could help her city complete its intermodal station district project in the area around its BART station.

Because this bill would have special meaning for California, it’s unclear how it’ll play with the rest of the Republican-controlled House. Swalwell said he hasn’t yet begun lining up co-sponsors even amid California’s delegation.

“I’ve got my work cut out for me,” he said. “But whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat in California, you represent cities that suffered with the loss of their redevelopment authorities. This is going to be my year-end push, to reach out to colleagues on this issue.”

Posted on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Under: Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | No Comments »

Lawmakers urge DOJ to back off pot dispensaries

Four Bay Area House members are urging the area’s top federal prosecutor to halt what they say is ongoing “hostility toward dispensaries” that provide marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana law.

Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton; and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, sent a letter to Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for California’s Northern District. In says, in part:

“It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward dispensaries. Moreover, it appears to directly counter the spirit of Deputy Attorney General Cole’s memo, and is in direct opposition to the evolving view toward medical marijuana, the will of the people and, by now, common sense. Additionally, the State of California has also received legislative direction and guidelines from California Attorney General Kamala Harris on responsibly delivering medical marijuana.

“It is our view that the intent of the Justice Department is to not enforce its anti-marijuana laws in conflict with the laws of states that have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses. California understands the urgency toward putting together a statewide regulatory system, and we can all be helpful in that regard, but some municipalities, including Oakland, have already done an extraordinary job regulating medical marijuana. California is moving in the correct direction in a measured manner, and should be given the opportunity to do so.”

Several Bay Area dispensaries have been targeted by federal prosecutors, and Alameda County supervisors this month adopted a resolution urging the federal government to back off.

In a news release announcing the lawmakers’ letter, Lee said it’s “far past time for commonsense and economic sense to prevail in policies and actions related to medical cannabis dispensaries that serve the patients in our communities. This harassment and constant threat of prosecution should end.”

Posted on Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, marijuana, Sam Farr, U.S. House, Uncategorized | No Comments »

CA15: Stark vows to help Corbett beat Swalwell

The 2014 campaign for the 15th Congressional District seat has started sounding a lot like the 2012 campaign, as former congressman Pete Stark vengefully vows to support a challenger to the fellow Democrat who unseated him, Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Pete Stark“Hopefully Eric will lose, and I am doing everything I can to see that Ellen Corbett wins that primary election,” Stark told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday. “I remember Eric, during the campaign against me, suggested that I was too old and inept to be of any value in the political process, so I am going to see if I can prove that to be wrong.”

State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, has trailed Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, thus far in fundraising and visibility, but Stark hopes to change that.

“I know that Eric used to say that I had $30 million,” Stark said. “I wish he was correct. But I have at least half that much at my disposal, and so I intend to broadcast far and wide his ethics problems and his inexperience and his failure to accomplish much in the Congress.”

Stark’s 2012 campaign committee contributed $2,000 to Corbett’s campaign in August.

Then again, Swalwell beat the 20-term incumbent last year in part because the district’s voters apparently were fed up with Stark’s behavior, including a series of unsupported accusations against Swalwell and others. And Stark’s vow to spend from his own pocket on Corbett’s campaign begs questions both of why he hasn’t done so thus far, and why he didn’t do so to keep himself in office last year.

Swalwell said Thursday that voters decided last year to replace a 40-year incumbent, and that he has kept his promise “to bring new energy and ideas to Congress. It’s time to move on and look forward and not go back to the tired politics of the past.”

“He’s trying to buy a seat in Congress for a friend that he couldn’t win for himself. But this seat isn’t for sale,” Swalwell added. “It’s one gift money can’t buy.”

Swalwell seems proud of the CQ Roll Call story, as he has been sharing it via social media.

“Last yr voters told Pete Stark, ‘bye, bye!’ But he took it as ‘buy, buy!’ & says he’ll spend $15M to help my opponent,” Swalwell tweeted Thursday morning.

He also posted the story on his Facebook page. “The voters have moved on and this seat is not for sale. I promise to keep bringing new energy and ideas to Congress,” he wrote there.

Corbett has not yet returned a call and an e-mail seeking comment.

UPDATE @ 2:35 P.M.: “I have a broad coalition of support from throughout the district, from people who realize I have a superior record of achieving for the district, and that includes Congressman Stark,” Corbett said Thursday afternoon. “It seems that Eric is picking a fight with the former Congressman, but I’m running to offer voters a choice and I will be standing on my own record of public service to this district. After all, that’s what democracy is all about, and I look forward to the campaign.”

Posted on Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Under: Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

Bill Lockyer endorses Eric Swalwell for re-elction

Lest you think Rep. Mike Honda’s 17th Congressional District is the only Bay Area race where incumbents are trying to get an early leg up on their challengers, Rep. Eric Swalwell fired a shot across his challenger’s bow Monday morning.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, announced he has the endorsement of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer for re-election to his 15th Congressional District seat.

“I’m for Congressman Eric Swalwell because I’ve seen him bring great energy and smart thinking to his job, and the determination to listen well to the people and work very hard for them every day,” Lockyer said in Swalwell’s news release. “Eric is getting good things done in Washington and at home, he has earned another term in Congress, and his re-election will be good news for his district and the nation.”

Lockyer’s endorsement is significant not only because he’s the longest serving statewide elected official, but also because he’s a powerful figure in Alameda County politics – particularly in the areas where Swalwell’s challenger, state Sen. Ellen Corbett, runs strongest.

Corbett, D-San Leandro, is looking to her home base on the west side of the hills for strength, but Lockyer’s word could carry significant sway there: He served many of the same areas during his 25 years in the Legislature that Corbett now does. He lives in Hayward now, but started his career in elected office (in 1968!) as a San Leandro Unified School District board member. Corbett as a college student did an internship in then-Assemblyman Lockyer’s office; he spoke at Corbett’s Senate swearing-in ceremony in 2007.

Eric SwalwellSwalwell said he’s honored to have Lockyer’s support.

“He has always been a fierce defender of his constituents and committed to improving the lives of the middle class and those less fortunate,” Swalwell said. “I admire Treasurer Lockyer’s unwavering commitment to his Democratic ideals while also working toward compromise if it will benefit the people. He has provided steady stewardship of California’s finances as Treasurer and I share his priorities to improve our economy and responsibly manage the people’s money.”

Posted on Monday, November 18th, 2013
Under: Bill Lockyer, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 9 Comments »