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SD7: The saga of the GOP elephant logo

There’s more cross-party sniping in the 7th State Senate District special election, as the California Republican Party has told a Contra Costa County prosecutor to cease and desist from telling Democrat Steve Glazer’s campaign to cease and desist using GOP logos.

Confused? That’s probably how some want it. But here’s the breakdown:

Back in December, the Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorneys’ Association endorsed Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in this race. Association president Paul Graves said in a news release at the time that her “commitment to doing the right thing for crime victims has always impressed our membership, including her recent success in passing Assembly Bill 2501 which bans so-called ‘panic defenses’ in court.”

Graves, 46, has been a deputy district attorney for 20 years; voter registration records show he’s a Republican.

On April 9, Graves sent a personal letter to Glazer’s campaign demanding that it cease and desist using Republican logos and images in its campaign advertising. “For a liberal Democratic candidate like Mr. Glazer to deceive Republican voters by superimposing iconic Republican Party images … such as the GOP elephant on Mr. Glazer’s campaign material is a new low in dishonest political campaigning,” he wrote.

Glazer1 Mailer Rep Logo

Glazer2 mailer

Graves wrote that the California Republican Party has a long history of suing people and campaigns who deceptively use its images without permission. He demanded that Glazer’s campaign immediately stop distributing any such mailers, destroy any copies that haven’t been mailed out yet, and stop producing them; he also demanded a public apology from Glazer. And he demanded proof that the campaign had complied, noting he reserved the right to sue.

But the very next day, California GOP Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon – a San Francisco attorney – sent Graves a letter telling him to knock it off.

“As you well know, you are not an authorized representative of the CRP, nor do you own any license, title or interest in or to any CRP trademarks,” Dhillon wrote. “As such, you lack standing to speak on behalf of the CRP, file a lawsuit concerning Mr. Glazer’s alleged infringement of trademarks belonging to the CRP, seek injunctive relief or damages, or take any similar conduct on behalf of the CRP.”

“In fact, the CRP became aware of Mr. Glazer’s campaign activities weeks ago, and resolved the matter… to the CRP’s satisfaction,” Dhillon wrote. Dhillon said Monday that she can’t discuss that settlement’s terms, but Glazer no longer can use the logo.

In her April 10 letter to Graves, Dhillon wrote that his letter to Glazer violated state law and professional conduct rules. “Your conduct in using your status as an attorney, which includes the publicly known fact that you are a prosecutor with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office, to gain leverage in this matter by masquerading as a person with standing to make threats, is an abuse of those positions and of ethical standards.”

Dhillon demanded that Graves cease and desist from holding himself out as an attorney for or representative of the party. “Should we not receive some written confirmation, preferably by return email, of your agreement to never repeat this conduct, then we will be forced to escalate this matter to the next levels on several fronts.”

Graves withdrew his letter and agreed to take no further action, Dhillon said Monday, adding the party enforces its trademark powers against Democrats and Republicans alike.

“In fact, the majority of the cease and desist efforts the party has done is against Republicans who use it to falsely imply the endorsement of the California Republican Party,” she said. “We always attempt to reach an amicable resolution to these matters.”

Dhillon in early March filed a federal lawsuit against the Asian American Small Business PAC for using the elephant logo without permission. That political action committee – which previously had almost exclusively supported Asian-American Democrats – funneled union money into mailers supporting Michaela Hertle in this contest’s March 17 primary. Hertle, a Republican from Pleasanton, had dropped out of the race and endorsed Glazer; by supporting Hertle, the PAC clearly was trying to sap votes from Glazer.

The PAC has been granted several time extensions in which to file a response to the GOP’s lawsuit; its current deadline is May 4.

Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Republican Party | No Comments »

SD7: See Susan Bonilla’s first television ad

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla is launching her first television ad in the 7th State Senate District special election.

The clip includes former Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, saying “Susan Bonilla is an effective legislator bringing people together to get things done.” Contra Costa County District Attoreny Mark Peterson and others then praise her record of balanced budgets, “fixing schools, creating jobs, fighting crime, passing historic pension reform, protecting the Delta and opposing the tunnels.” Miller then returns to say Bonilla “is true to her word and her actions,” hence her support by Democrats, Republicans, businesses, law enforcement and so on.

Bonilla campaign spokesman Patrick McGarrity said the ad started airing today and will keep running through the May 19 election on cable channels in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The campaign’s TV budget “is in the low six figures,” he said.

Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Susan Bonilla | 3 Comments »

SD7: Would they extend Prop. 30 taxes?

Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer says Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla flip-flopped on extending Proposition 30’s tax hikes to fund California’s schools, but Bonilla’s campaign said she has been consistent all along: She doesn’t support extending those taxes, but would support imposing new ones in their place.

The two Democrats are facing off in the 7th State Senate District’s special election, scheduled for May 19.

A new Bonilla campaign mailer that attacks Glazer for distorting her positions says she opposes extending the Prop. 30 taxes: “Glazer and his billionaire mega donor Bill Bloomfield are lying about Bonilla because they want to hide the fact that Steve Glazer was the ‘mastermind’ behind Prop 30, the $13.1 billion tax increase.”

The mailer follows that with a direct quote from Bonilla: “Steve Glazer and I both oppose extending Prop. 30.”

Bonilla

Josh Pulliam, Bonilla’s campaign consultant, said late Thursday afternoon that Bonilla has never supported an extension – whether by legislative action or another ballot measure – of Proposition 30’s taxes, and on several occasions has publicly corrected those who said otherwise.

She does, however, support a new, different, voter-approved tax hike measure to fund education in place of Prop. 30, he said.

Many apparently have been confused by this – perhaps including me.

In January, I reported on a TriValley Democratic Club forum at which Bonilla and then-candidate Joan Buchanan (who was eliminated in March’s special primary election) made their pitches.

Unsurprisingly, both said they would work to extend the Prop. 30 sales taxes and income taxes on the rich – due to expire in 2016 and 2018, respectively – in order to keep bankrolling education.

“The governor has made it very clear that the word ‘temporary’ means temporary, but … we need to go out to the people, I believe we can make the case,” Bonilla said. “There’s no way that you can get education on the cheap, it just doesn’t work.”

Contra Costa Times columnist Tom Barnridge wrote this after asking questions at a televised candidates’ forum in February:

What to do when Proposition 30 expires, ending temporary increases in sales and income taxes? Buchanan, Bonilla and Kremin would put an extension before voters. Glazer would let it expire because a temporary tax, he said, is meant to be temporary.

And the Lamorinda Democratic Club’s March newsletter recounted a Feb. 4 candidates’ forum thusly:

Susan Bonilla and Joan Buchanan favored extending Proposition 30 taxes, and a oil severance tax to continue to improve California schools—especially for the less fortunate. Steve Glazer, meanwhile, was against any new taxes and instead believed the government would have to live with the revenues it already receives.

Glazer campaign spokesman Jason Bezis said “there are more flips and flops in the Bonilla tax position than an amusement park roller coaster.

“She blindly supported a Prop. 30 tax extension in the primary, even though the promise to voters in 2012 was that it would be temporary. Now, in the general election, she flops away from it because that broken promise hurts her,” he claimed. “After this duplicity is uncovered, she flips yet again and says she wants to raise billions in new taxes, but just not ‘Prop 30’ taxes. You can see why voters are dizzy with Sacramento politicians like Bonilla. They have had enough of the political doublespeak.”

Incidentally, the Lamorinda Democratic Club – Glazer’s home turf – was scheduled to take an endorsement vote last week, president Katie Ricklefs said Thursday. But the vote was scrapped when a Glazer campaign operative cited a club bylaw – not updated since before the top-two primary system took effect – that essentially precludes the club from picking one Democrat over another in a general election. “We did a straw poll that showed 100 percent support for Susan, though,” Ricklefs said.

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, education, Susan Bonilla, taxes | 3 Comments »

SD7: Bonilla v. Glazer on business support, taxes

The battle between 7th State Senate District special election candidates Steve Glazer and Susan Bonilla to define themselves and each other roared on Wednesday, with Bonilla’s campaign simultaneously touting a significant business endorsement and faulting Glazer for supporting a parcel-tax hike that she supports, too.

Susan BonillaAs I reported in Sunday’s editions, the Democrat-on-Democrat race largely has pitted labor unions (supporting Bonilla, an Assemblywoman from Concord) against business interests (supporting Glazer, Orinda’s mayor).

But neither candidate fully embraces that division, and the lines do get blurry in places. Bonilla, who already had several corporate contributors and the support of the California Dental Association and California Medical Association, announced the California Small Business Association’s endorsement Wednesday.

“Susan Bonilla is a fiscally responsible leader with a strong record of partnering with small businesses, giving them tools to succeed and create good jobs,” CSBA President Betty Jo Toccoli said in Bonilla’s news release.

Bonilla may have some small businesses’ support, but Glazer has big businesses’ money on his side. JobsPAC, the California Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, has independently spent at least $555,000 as of Wednesday on Glazer’s behalf.

Bonilla’s campaign also Wednesday issued a memo to reporters decrying Glazer’s support of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District’s Measure A, which would renew an existing $144-per-year-parcel tax.

Steve Glazer“The list of Steve Glazer’s proclamations that he is a ‘fiscal conservative’ and that he would ‘hold the line on taxes’ is longer than Pinocchio’s nose,” Bonilla campaign consultant Josh Pulliam wrote in the memo. “Susan Bonilla supports the Measure A Parcel Tax … but she doesn’t play political games like Glazer, who broke his own campaign promise on taxes by endorsing the Measure A Parcel Tax.”

But Glazer’s campaign says Pulliam played it fast and loose with the facts.

“First, it’s an extension not a new tax and is a local choice,” spokesman Jason Bezis said. “Second, Bonilla is playing politics with an important school measure and this is typical of a Sacramento politician. Her lack of support for local schools is not a surprise given her bad vote last year to cap local school district reserves.”

Posted on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Susan Bonilla | 10 Comments »

SD7: Union IE group launches pro-Bonilla TV ad

The union-funded PAC that’s opposing Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer in the 7th State Senate District’s special election has launched a television ad on behalf of Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord.

Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate 2015 rolled out a 30-second ad Wednesday highlighting Bonilla’s efforts to expand early childhood education and her support of a bipartisan bill making it easier to fire educators who abuse children. The ad ends with the voiceover: “No wonder classroom teachers, local law enforcement, and Governor Jerry Brown trust Susan Bonilla.”

Working Families spokesman Steve Maviglio said the ad began airing Wednesday and will run for at least a week on all three cable systems serving the district; he wouldn’t specify the cost, except to say it’s a “substantial” ad buy.

Records from the Secretary of State’s office show the group has spent at least $821,000 on the race so far. But Glazer has received a lot of independent-expenditure help, too – Southern California businessman Bill Bloomfield has anted up at least $763,000 on Glazer’s behalf, and the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC has spent at least about $494,000.

Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Susan Bonilla | 3 Comments »

SD7: FPPC nixes Glazer’s complaint vs. union PAC

The state’s political watchdog agency has rejected state Senate candidate Steve Glazer’s complaint about the union-bankrolled PAC that’s opposing him.

Steve GlazerGlazer – Orinda’s mayor, and a Democrat – faces Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, in the May 19 special election for the 7th State Senate District seat. He complained last Wednesday to the California Fair Political Practices Commission that Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate had issued a mailer that didn’t disclose the big money – $185,000 from the State Council of Service Employees and $75,000 from the California School Employees Association – behind the PAC.

But Galena West, acting chief of the FPPC’s enforcement division, sent a letter to Glazer on Tuesday saying the PAC “has provided evidence that the mailer was already in production prior to the committee’s acquiring contributors of more than $50,000.”

“The FPPC’s Enforcement Division will not pursue this matter further,” West wrote.

“Once again, Steve Glazer’s attacks on working families have backfired in another attempt to distract voters from the more than $745,000 he has received from a Bush and Schwarzenegger donor from Los Angeles and more than $450,000 he has received from a political action committee funded by tobacco companies and other corporate interests,” Steven Maviglio, the PAC’s spokesman, said in a news release Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that he has wasted taxpayers resources for this publicity stunt.”

But Glazer campaign spokesman Jason Bezis retorted that “the essence of the complaint is now factually confirmed; the vast majority of the money for these mailers has come from government unions. They didn’t want the voters to know this and used a technicality to obscure this fact.”

“It’s obvious that the unions are not proud of their parenthood of these false mailers, as we saw in the primary election with their fake Asian American Small Business PAC,” Bezis added. “Powerful special interests, such as these government unions, detest thoughtful and independent candidates like Steve Glazer. The choice for voters is a special interest sycophant like Bonilla versus a people’s advocate like Glazer.”

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, campaign finance, Susan Bonilla | 16 Comments »

Chiang urges CalSTRS to divest from gun maker

California Treasurer John Chiang is concerned that the state’s teachers’ pension system still has investments managed by a firm that hasn’t kept its promise to sell off its firearm-manufacturing holdings.

This all started with the December, 2012 schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn., in which a Bushmaster AR-15-type semi-automatic rifle – which fit California’s definition of an assault weapon – was used to kill 20 children and six adults. Bushmaster – along with Remington, Marlin and several other firearm brands – belongs to the Freedom Group, which in turn is owned by Cerberus Capital Management.

Bushmaster XM15

Soon after the Newtown shooting, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) issued a statement expressing concern that Cerberus – which manages some private equity funds in which CalSTRS is invested – owned Freedom Group. But Cerberus had just announced that it intended to sell Freedom Group, so CalSTRS was satisfied.

Yet Cerberus still owns Freedom Group today.

“Two years ago, I was proud to support the effort of CalSTRS to divest from assault weapon manufacturers,” Chiang wrote this week CalSTRS investment committee chairwoman Sharon Hendricks. “I am frustrated that two years have passed and the Freedom Group remains in their portfolio, indirectly financed by the pension contributions of California teachers.”

Chiang acknowledged the pension fund is obliged to find sound investments, but “it must consider how those investments may be used to finance business interests that run counter to the beliefs of CalSTRS and its members.”

“We rightly determined that there is significant risk in investing in the Freedom Group, a business that manufactures weapons that are susceptible to sanctions, regulations, and actions that could be detrimental to the fund,” he wrote, urging the CalSTRS board to do whatever is necessary to fully divest from the Freedom Group.

Chiang also asked that Cerberus’ leadership attend the CalSTRS board meeting this Friday “to explain why the Freedom Group remains in its portfolio despite agreeing to remove it more than two years ago. It is vital that Cerberus understand the strong desire of CalSTRS, its Board, and teachers in California, that none of its funds be used to fund the manufacturing of weapons used to commit such terrible atrocities.”

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Under: gun control, John Chiang | 5 Comments »

SD7: Steve Glazer files FPPC complaint on unions

Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, vying with Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in the 7th State Senate District special election, filed a complaint Wednesday with the state’s political watchdog agency claiming labor unions are hiding their role in a group that’s attacking him.

Steve GlazerGlazer informed the Fair Political Practices Commission that the “Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate” group received hundreds of thousands of dollars from union committees, but failed to list on its mailer the names of the top two union donors who had contributed $50,000 or more, as state law requires.

“The disclosure rules are in effect to give voters full knowledge of the special interests who are funding these communications,” Glazer said in a news release. “These groups are sophisticated political players who circumvented disclosure laws for the sole purpose of misleading voters.”

Glazer cited filings with the Secretary of State that show the State Council of Service Employees gave $185,000 and the California School Employees Association gave $75,000 to support this mailer.

Before the March 17 primary, unions had contributed money to the Asian American Small Business PAC, which put out mailers supporting Republican Michaela Hertle – who had dropped out of the race Feb. 2 and endorsed Glazer. The PAC previously had almost exclusively endorsed Asian American Democrats, and the mailers were seen as an effort to sap votes from Glazer.

“Special interest groups are fearful of my candidacy because I won’t do their bidding. They need to come out of the shadows and play by the rules. I have asked the Fair Political Practices Commission to hold them accountable,” Glazer said.

Glazer has also benefitted from extensive independent spending, with massive outlays from Southern California businessman Bill Bloomfield and the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC.

The special general election – to succeed Democrat Mark DeSaulnier, who was elected to Congress in November – will be held May 19.

UPDATE @ 3:06 P.M.: Steve Maviglio, spokesman for Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate, called the complaint “nothing more than a meritless publicity stunt cooked up by Big Tobacco political consultant Steve Glazer to deflect from the fact that his campaign is being bankrolled big insurance and drug companies, out-of-state corporations, and other special interests. We look forward to the FPPC quickly dismissing this smear.”

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Under: California State Senate | 41 Comments »

Muslim group plans Sacramento lobbying blitz

A Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group will focus its California lobbying blitz next month on bills dealing with police surveillance, equal pay for women, and a freeze on tuition at state colleges and universities.

CAIRCalifornialogoThe California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is planning its 4th annual California Muslim Day at the State Capitol for Monday, April 27. They’ll be reaching out to legislators about issues that impact the Muslim community broadly, and to push for three bills in particular.

SB 178, the California Electronic Communication Privacy Act by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would provide protection against warrantless government access private electronic communications such as emails, text messages and GPS data that are held on smartphones, tablets, laptops and other digital devices. Police would have to go to a judge and get a warrant before accessing such information.

SB 358, the California Fair Pay Act by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, would will help to ensure that women are paid equally when they do the same work as men, and protect workers from retaliation when they inquire or speak out about wage differences at work. CAIR notes that in 2013, a California woman working full-time earned 84 cents to every dollar earned by a man doing the same job; the gap is considerably wider for women of color.

AB 42 by Assemblywoman Young Kim, D-Fullerton, would require the California Community Colleges and California State University – and ask the University of California – to freeze tuition and fees at their 2014-15 levels while the tax hikes enacted by voters as Proposition 30 of 2012 remain in effect.

Posted on Friday, March 27th, 2015
Under: Assembly, California State Senate | 3 Comments »

California lawmakers globe-trot to Cuba, Japan

With the Legislature in recess next week, California’s top lawmakers – and a few Bay Area members, too – are leaving Sacramento to do some globe-trotting.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Agriculture Committee Chair Henry Perea, D-Fresno, will lead a trade delegation of legislators, academics, and agriculture industry representatives to Cuba from Monday, March 30 to Friday, April 3.

They’re aiming to build ties with Cuban policymakers, farmers, and businesses, and to explore options for California and Cuba to collaborate not only in agriculture but also in telecommunications, construction and banking.

Toni Atkins“With the federal government moving forward with efforts to normalize diplomatic, economic, and commercial relations, it is important for California to also engage with Cuba and expand economic relationships that create new opportunities for businesses in our state,” Atkins said in a news release. “The Assembly wants to do everything we can to create more jobs and business in California, and this trade delegation is one way to help California companies gain a competitive edge.”

The partner organization for the trade delegation is Californians Building Bridges, a nonprofit with years of experience leading cultural, humanitarian and entrepreneurial exchanges between California and Cuba. No Assembly funds are being spent.

Also in the delegation are Bill Quirk, D-Hayward; Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond; Luis Alejo, D-Salinas; Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove; Adam Gray, D-Merced; Jose Medina, D-Riverside; and Rudy Salas Jr., D-Bakersfield – all Agriculture Committee members, or serving districts with agricultural interests. Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, and Republicans on the Agriculture Committee were invited but declined to attend.

Meanwhile, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, will lead a delegation including Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, to Japan from Monday, March 30 through Thursday, April 2. Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, is going, too.

The lawmakers were invited by the Japanese government, and they’ll be discussing issues including transportation, seismic safety, clean energy, environmental protection and climate change.

Kevin de LeonThey’re scheduled to meet Monday in Tokyo with U.S. Embassy officials and Japanese officials including Issei Kitagawa, the state minister of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism to discuss high-speed rail. They’ll also meet that day with people from Japan’s Reconstruction Agency, the main entity responsible for recovery from the March 2011 earthquake that devastated part of the nation.

On Tuesday, they’re scheduled to visit Japan’s National Diet, the legislature, as well as to tour the High Speed Rail Operation Center and to ride in a new fuel-cell car produced by Toyota.

On Wednesday they’ll travel to Kobe to meet with the mayor and tour a facility memorializing the January 1995 earthquake that killed more than 5,000 and destroyed tens of thousands of homes, and the recovery efforts that followed. And on Thursday they’ll start in Osaka and then head for Kyoto, to meet the mayor for a briefing on the city’s economy and history.

Posted on Friday, March 27th, 2015
Under: Assembly, Bill Quirk, Bob Huff, California State Senate, Kevin de Leon, Toni Atkins, Tony Thurmond | 1 Comment »