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Calling BS as Donnelly links Kashkari to Shariah

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly told me Monday that he sees “signs of desperation” from GOP rival Neel Kashkari, so it’s puzzling that Donnelly – ahead in recent polls – would resort to such a desperate-sounding tactic as this.

Tim DonnellySomebody within Donnelly’s campaign on Monday posted a Facebook item alleging that Kashkari “supported the United States submitting to the Islamic, Shariah banking code in 2008 when he ran TARP.”

“Shariah is ‘the seditious religio-political-legal code authoritative Islam seeks to impose worldwide under a global theocracy,’ ” the post said. “This revelation is spreading fast, as people like Anita Gunn refer to Mr. Kashkari’s support of Shariah an ‘October Surprise.’”

The post includes a link to a Tweet by Gunn, a conservative online columnist, which in turn links to a 2008 commentary by conservative pundit Frank Gaffney published by the Washington Times. And that’s where the BS begins in earnest.

Gaffney’s opinion piece is full of rhetorical leaps unsupported by facts or evidence – essentially surmising that the Treasury Department’s study of whether Islamic banking could be useful in combating the world’s financial crisis was a foothold for Shariah law that would have everyone in America bowing toward Mecca within a few years. Here’s the section that dealt with Kashkari, who at the time was in charge of Treasury’s Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to prevent a banking-and-finance-sector meltdown:

Thanks to the extraordinary authority conferred on Treasury since September, backed by the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the department is now in a position to impose its embrace of Shariah on the U.S. financial sector. The nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Treasury’s purchase of – at last count – 17 banks and the ability to provide, or withhold, funds from its new slush-fund can translate into unprecedented coercive power.

Concerns in this regard are only heightened by the prominent role Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari will be playing in “Islamic Finance 101.” Mr. Kashkari, the official charged with administering the TARP fund, will provide welcoming remarks to participants. Presumably, in the process, he will convey the enthusiasm about Shariah-Compliant Finance that appears to be the current party line at Treasury.

Note the couching: “in a position to impose,” “can translate into,” and “presumably.” Even in 2008, it was a reach. And in 2014, with TARP not only having succeeded in stabilizing the financial sector but also having profited taxpayers to the tune of $13.6 billion, it’s clear that no creeping Shariah ever materialized.

Yet Donnelly told the Los Angeles Times he stands by the Facebook item: “Given the recent stories and protests about the outrage of the discriminatory nature of Sharia law, we’re horrified that Kashkari would support Sharia anything.”

Except that he didn’t. The only real question Donnelly’s insinuation raises is whether he’s trying to capitalize on Kashkari’s ethnic-sounding name – he’s actually Indo-American, and a Hindu – to score cheap points.

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Neel Kashkari goes on the offensive

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, lagging in the polls, has launched his big pre-election push with his first TV ad, a $500,000 personal investment in his campaign, and an attack website targeting GOP rival Tim Donnelly.

The 30-second ad, which will air statewide, presents Kashkari “as a fiscal conservative with the right background and the right vision to turn the state around,” his news release says. Its launch coincides with today’s mailing of vote-by-mail ballots.

“Thanks to Gov. Brown’s failed leadership, California today ranks 46th in education, 47th in jobs and first in poverty, and millions of middle-class families are struggling as a result. It’s clearly time for new, fiscally conservative leadership in Sacramento that knows what it takes to unleash the private sector,” Kashkari campaign manager Pat Melton said in the release. “With this ad – along with our direct mail program and other ongoing voter outreach efforts – we’re introducing Neel Kashkari to voters as the candidate with the experience and the plan to turn California around and to help rebuild the Republican Party around an inclusive economic message.”

The ad comes on the heels of a week-long roll out of endorsements by big Republican names including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former California Gov. Pete Wilson and many others. The ad also comes alongside Kashkari’s announcement that he’s putting half a million of his own money into the campaign – a significant boost, given that he had only about $900,000 banked by mid-March, more than Donnelly but far behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s $19.7 million.

“Since launching his campaign in January, Neel has earned the support of many people who share his vision for California and for the Republican Party, and his contribution only adds to the momentum building behind his campaign,” Melton said. “As our campaign continues our voter outreach effort and as Californians get to know Neel better, we’re confident they’ll support his candidacy and cast their ballots for him.”

But in case positivity doesn’t work, Kashkari also is going heavily negative on Donnelly, who has been way ahead in the polls.

Kashkari’s campaign has launched a “Tim Donnelly: You Can’t Be Serious” website that takes the conservative Assemblyman to task for his 2012 gun conviction, for allegedly flip-flopping on property rights, for allegedly living high on the taxpayers’ hog, for having a tax lien against one of his former businesses, and more.

The GIF-laden site (seriously, guys, it’s an awful lot) claims Donnelly has zero chance of beating Brown, and so Democrats would be “partying in the streets” if he turns out to be the only challenger left standing after June’s top-two primary.

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Gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly in Dublin

Gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly is meeting with fellow Republicans in the East Bay on Wednesday night, and let’s all hope he’s not packing heat.

Tim DonnellyThe reception for Donnelly – co-hosted by the Tri-Valley Republican Women Federated, the Frederick Douglas Foundation of California, the New Republicans, and the East Bay Tea Party – from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Coco Cabana in Dublin coincides with a Los Angeles Times story that says the handgun Donnelly tried to take through airport security in 2012 was not registered to him.

“He will decline to comment on this,” Donnelly campaign manager Jennifer Kerns said Wednesday afternoon. “That information in that story is two years old and was written about when that incident first happened. Old news…”

The Assemblyman from Twin Peaks had a loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in his carry-on bag as he tried to board a plane Jan. 4, 2012 at the Ontario airport. He pleaded no contest later that year to misdemeanor charges of carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport; he paid a $2,125 fine and is still on his three years of probation.

The Times nailed Donnelly earlier this month for apparently violating that probation by firing borrowed handguns at a Santa Cruz shooting range while on the campaign trail. San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos said last week he won’t charge Donnelly with a probation violation.

I’d ask Donnelly about the unregistered handgun tonight, but it’s my birthday and my wife is taking me out to dinner – no work for me this evening! Instead, you can go: The event is free and requires no RSVP.

“Come on out and meet Tim Donnelly in a relaxed, personal setting after work. He wants the chance to talk with his fellow conservative Republicans in our 16th (Assembly) district, and to hear about what’s important to you,” the invitation says. “This is your chance to share your priorities with him, and to learn how he intends to help us preserve our cherished way of life here in the Tri-Valley, stop the spending spree in Sacramento, lower our taxes, protect our guns and our borders, and restore and defend our God-given liberty!”

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Neel Kashkari says he raised $976k in two weeks

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari announced Wednesday he has raised $976,000 in the first two weeks of his campaign, and said there will be a lot more coming soon.

Practically none of that sum had been reported to the Secretary of State’s office by Wednesday afternoon, so it was not yet possible to assess from whom or how many the contributions came. (See updates below.)

NEEL KASHKARIBut if the figure is accurate – and it’s hard to imagine a candidate who would lie about such a thing, knowing it’ll all have to be reported in detail – it confirms suspicions that Kaskhari, 40, of Laguna Beach, is the man for whom the GOP’s deep pockets have been waiting.

Neither fellow Republican candidate Tim Donnelly nor Abel Maldonado, who dropped out of the race last month, have come anywhere close to this kind of number. After campaigning hard for months, Donnelly had only about $18,000 in unencumbered cash banked by the year’s end.

Pat Melton, Kashkari’s campaign manager, said in a news release that the former assistant U.S. Treasury secretary and asset manager “is extremely grateful to all the supporters who have helped get his campaign off to such a strong start. Clearly, there is broad support for Neel’s platform of creating good jobs and giving every kid a quality education and for his commitment to restoring the Republican Party as the party of economic opportunity.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign had about $17 million banked at the start of this year.

“There’s no doubt that Neel faces a significant financial disadvantage against Governor Brown, who has already raised millions from special interests that benefit from the status quo,” Melton added. “But with 24 percent of Californians living in poverty and 18 percent of our state struggling for work, the truth remains: The status quo is unacceptable. Our campaign’s robust fundraising in these first two weeks underscores Neel’s strength as a candidate, and it will help ensure that we have the resources necessary to share with voters his vision for turning California around.”

UPDATE @ 4:33 P.M.: A copy of Kashkari’s filing I’ve just obtained shows he received $27,200 each – the maximum contribution allowed by law – from his former boss, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and Paulson’s wife, Wendy, of Chicago; from each of his parents, Dr. Sheila Kashkari and professor Chaman Kashkari, of Stow, Ohio; from Red Mountain Group CEO Michael Mugel and his wife, Coleen, of Santa Ana; from Anthos Capital co-founder Eff Martin and his wife, Patricia, of Woodside; and from Goldman Sachs executive George Lee II of Tiburon. Kashkari worked at Goldman Sachs before following Paulson to the Treasury Department; several other Goldman Sachs employyes and executives also have contributed to his campaign.

UPDATE @ 5:10 P.M.: Kashkari’s report is now available on the Secretary of State’s website.

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Actress in Tim Donnelly ad pushed out of SF play

A Latino actress who appeared in a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate’s ad faced so much backlash that she had to quit her role in a play in San Francisco, CBS San Francisco reports.

Tim Donnelly – an Assemblyman from Twin Peaks – released a campaign video this week featuring Maria Conchita Alonso. Per CBS:

The actress was to perform next month at the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco’s Mission District in a Spanish-language version of “The Vagina Monologues,” scheduled for a run from February 14th through 17th. The show is being produced by none other than Eliana Lopez, wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

“We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately,” Lopez told KPIX 5. She said Alonso abruptly resigned from the cast on Friday, given the backlash on the immigration issue.

“Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of the Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe,” Lopez said.

Donnelly’s campaign had described the online-only ad as featuring “Donnelly, a former Minuteman, and Hollywood actress Maria Conchita Alonso, whose family of Cuban immigrants fled an oppressive dictatorship and sought freedom in America. Together, the pair talks about how, despite our differences, we are ALL Californians and must unite to tackle the many problems facing California.”