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Hillary Clinton’s fundraisers and critics

As expected, donors at today’s Hillary Clinton fundraisers in San Francisco paid only $2,700 to get in but are being asked to raise the same amount from 10 friends.

Clinton’s first event is from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. at the home of hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer, with about 105 attendees. The second, with about 220 attendees, is from 4:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at the Century Club, hosted by longtime friend and supporter Susie Tompkins Buell, cofounder of Esprit and The North Face, and her husband, Mark Buell; an earlier invitation and previous reports had erroneously indicated this would be at the Buell’s home.

She has three similar events scheduled Thursday in Los Angeles, and one Friday at the Portola Valley home of eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and Eileen Donahoe, global affairs director for Human Rights Watch and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

These events – into which no reporters are allowed – continue to build the “Hillstarters” program, a Clinton campaign aide said: a “bundling” program designed to involve more people and build the donor base. Attendees give $2,700, while hosts or co-hosts raise that same amount from each of 10 or more other people.

The aide said Clinton will speak to today’s attendees “about her commitment to being a champion for everyday Americans,” outlining her goals of “building the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday; strengthening families and communities; fixing our dysfunctional political system; and protecting our country from threats.”

Critics abound from several quarters.

“While Clinton doesn’t have time to answer serious questions about the numerous scandals plaguing her candidacy, she found time for three days worth of fundraising in California with the same wealthy liberal donors who gave to her family’s controversial foundation,” Republican National Committee spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said. “Everyday Americans are waiting for answers, and it’s very clear that answering their questions isn’t a priority to Clinton.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is sending its “Frostpaw the Polar Bear” mascot to a rally outside the event at Steyer’s home, in an effort to urge Clinton “to outline a bold plan for addressing the climate crisis, including opposing Keystone XL.”

“If we’re going to have a planet that’s livable for people and wildlife, we need Hillary Clinton standing with millions of Americans calling for an end to fossil fuel addiction,” Valerie Love, a campaigner with the Center, said in a news release. “Tackling the climate crisis ought to start with rejecting projects like Keystone XL followed by a visionary plan to dramatically reduce carbon pollution and steer us toward cleaner, safer energy sources.”

America Rising, a political action committee that gathers and spreads opposition research on Democrats, notes Clinton not only has yet to take a public position on the pipeline, but has dodged the question more than a dozen times. That includes a discussion in Canada at which she said she has “traveled around your country avoiding answering questions” on Keystone XL because she was involved in the decision-making process as Secretary of State.

And Californians for Energy Indpendence, a group funded by the oil industry, notes Clinton told Iowans last month that “there’s something wrong” when “hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80 when I was driving here” – yet Steyer is a former hedge fund manager who used tax loopholes including offshore havens.

Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

Reactions to Loretta Lynch’s confirmation as AG

The U.S. Senate voted 56-43 Thursday to confirm federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. Attorney General, ending one of the longest cabinet confirmation delays in the nation’s history.

Ten Republicans joined with all Democrats to confirm Lynch, 55, whom President Obama nominated in early November. The only Senator not voting was presidential candidate Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“Loretta Lynch is one of the best I’ve seen in my 22 years in the Senate and I’m confident that she will be a stellar Attorney General. Her record as U.S. attorney is impeccable, and she’s proven herself as a tough but fair prosecutor and effective leader.

“As Attorney General, she will focus on a range of important issues including our national security, improving community policing and combatting human trafficking.

“I regret that this confirmation vote was delayed by months. No one questions Loretta Lynch’s qualifications for this position and she did not deserve this unnecessary delay. Nonetheless, I know that she will hit the ground running and continue to serve this country with distinction.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“After an inexcusable delay by Senate Republicans, history has been made today with the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as our next Attorney General. When this country lives up to its promise as the land of opportunity for all, it is a moment to be celebrated.

“Loretta Lynch is an extraordinary nominee with an extraordinary record, and she is just the Attorney General we need during these challenging times.”

From U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder:

“Loretta Lynch is a gifted attorney, a consummate professional, and a dedicated public servant. I am pleased that the United States Senate has recognized her clear qualifications and the need for her confirmation as Attorney General of the United States.

“At every stage of her career, Loretta has earned the trust and high regard of allies and adversaries alike, both in Washington and throughout the country. She is respected by law enforcement officers, civil rights leaders, and criminal justice officials of all political stripes. In every case and every circumstance, she has demonstrated an unfailing commitment to the rule of law and a steadfast fidelity to the pursuit to justice.

“I have known and worked closely with Loretta for many years, and I know that she will continue the vital work that this Administration has set in motion and leave her own innovative mark on the Department in which we have both been privileged to serve. I am confident that Loretta will be an outstanding Attorney General, a dedicated guardian of the Constitution, and a devoted champion of all those whom the law protects and empowers. I congratulate her on her confirmation, and I look forward to all that the Department of Justice will do and achieve under her exemplary leadership.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, the Senate has finally confirmed Loretta Lynch as the first-ever African American woman Attorney General of the United States. As the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement official, Attorney General Lynch will continue to be a resolute, tenacious advocate for justice.

“As the daughter of a North Carolina preacher active in the civil rights movement, Attorney General Lynch has dedicated her career to promoting civil rights and ensuring that equality, dignity, and justice belong to all Americans. In the Eastern District of New York, she has already shown her resolve in fighting for survivors of human trafficking, and prosecuting terrorism and corruption.

“We have full faith that Attorney General Lynch will continue the incredible legacy of progress left by Attorney General Eric Holder. His bold vision and resolve to protect access to the ballot box, ensure that law enforcement practices are consistent with the Constitution, and end the epidemic of incarceration are vital to improving America’s future. It is with great pride that we congratulate Attorney General Lynch as she continues to reaffirm the bedrock American principle of equal justice under law.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“Today’s vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as our nation’s next Attorney General is historic. It is not only historic because she is the first woman of color to hold the nation’s highest law enforcement post but also because of her excellent qualifications for the role.

“I was proud to join many women of the Congressional Black Caucus on the Senate floor for this historic vote.
However, it is shameful that she had to wait more than 160 days for her confirmation vote, longer than the wait for the last seven Attorneys General combined.

“It’s past time to stop playing political games with qualified nominees and start working to address the critical issues facing our nation.”

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
Under: Attorney General, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Clinton campaign hires paid staffers for California

Two seasoned political operatives have signed on as paid staff for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in California.

The Clinton campaign announced Wednesday that it’s deploying paid staff in each of the 50 states who’ll coordinate local grassroots organizing meetings and house parties, engaging her supporters and training volunteers. California’s paid staffers are Ian Leviste and Sam Schneidman, a Clinton campaign official said Thursday.

Schneidman, 26, the Northern California organizer, most recently worked as field director for the Australian Labor Party, but earlier was an organizer for President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns in Nevada, Alaska and Iowa. He also was a legislative intern for Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. , and for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Leviste, 28, the Southern California organizer, has been working as deputy Western field director for the Ready for Hillary PAC that was laying groundwork for the campaign.

Their mandate is old-school organizing: block-by-block, person-to-person contact. In the short term, they’ll be organizing house parties at which supporters can watch Clinton lay out her vision of the campaign during a formal kickoff next month.

As the Huffington Post noted Wednesday, hiring paid staffers all across the nation is reminiscent of “the ‘50-state strategy’ pushed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean when he was chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Dean argued that Democrats shouldn’t concede any state as ‘unwinnable’ and should invest resources in building an infrastructure in every single state.”

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 4 Comments »

Kamala Harris in NYC for summit & fundraiser

U.S. Senate candidate and California Attorney General Kamala Harris is in New York City today for purposes both official and political.

Kamala HarrisHarris will take part in a “Stop the Trolls” panel discussion on the issue of cyber-exploitation Thursday afternoon at the 6th Annual Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center. Other panelists will include New York Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon, actress and activist Ashley Judd, and Feminist Frequency founder and executive director Anita Sarkeesian; the moderator will be Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak at the summit later Thursday afternoon.

Harris this month announced an 18-year jail sentence for Kevin Bollaert, who had operated a website posting nude photos of victims with personal identifying information without their consent – the nation’s first criminal prosecution of a cyber-exploitation website operator.

She also has convened 50 major technology companies, victim advocates, and legislative and law enforcement leaders to fight cyber exploitation through a public-private partnership focused in four areas: developing an industry statement of principles, education and prevention, law enforcement training and collaboration, and legislation and advocacy. And Harris in 2011 created an eCrime Unit to identify and prosecute identity theft crimes, cybercrimes and other crimes involving the use of technology.

Harris fundraiserTonight, Harris is raising funds for her Senate campaign at an “NYC Young Professionals for Kamala” reception in Manhattan’s Chelsea District, headlined by New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblyman Michael Blake, both Bronx Democrats. Tickets to the event range from $75 for young professionals to $1,000 for co-chairs.

Actually, Heastie’s name appeared on an earlier iteration of the invitation (seen at left, click to enlarge) but seems to be gone now from the ActBlue sign-up page. One has to wonder if that’s because this isn’t a great week for Heastie, what with the New York Times reporting on how he benefitted from his mother’s embezzlement.

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
Under: Attorney General, Kamala Harris, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Neel Kashkari endorses Rocky Chávez for Senate

2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari has endorsed Assemblyman Rocky Chávez for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

NEEL KASHKARIChávez, R-Oceanside, “is the right candidate for California,” Kashkari said in a news release. “His story reflects that of so many Californians who want to preserve the American Dream for their families, but are in need of a better education system for their kids and who seek elected leaders who will balance the budget.”

“We need experienced and tested leaders in Washington who are prepared to tackle challenges at home and abroad,” Kashkari added. “As a Marine Colonel and a California Assembly Member, Col. Chávez has the experience to effectively represent California in the United States Senate.”

Chávez thanked Kashkari for his “incredible support. He understands what it takes to meet challenges head-on, and we continue to need voices like his in California.”

Kashkari, of Laguna Beach, got 40 percent of the vote in November’s general gubernatorial election, defeated by incumbent Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown. A moderate on some issues, he had struggled all last year to shore up his standing with the GOP’s conservative wing – a struggle the relatively moderate Chávez might face as well.

Former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette opened an exploratory committee for the 2016 Senate race in late February, and is expected to announce his candidacy soon. Another former state GOP chairman, Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills, also is considering a run for the seat. Two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, have declared their candidacies, though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee.

The only Democrat in the race so far is California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who raised $2.5 million in the year’s first quarter and has been steadily rolling out endorsements in recent months. But a few other Democrats are mulling the race as well – most notably Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, who sounded like she was testing out her campaign oratory Monday in Orange County, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
Under: Neel Kashkari, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Obama honors Cal labor scholar at White House

A Berkeley labor scholar and consultant was among those honored by President Obama at the White House on Thursday as “Champions of Change” for working families.

Netsy FiresteinNetsy Firestein, 62, is a senior fellow at UC-Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and a consultant on work and family, child care, women and labor issues.

As founder and director of the Labor Project for Working Families, Firestein led a coalition that passed paid family leave in California, which covers almost every worker in the state. She also co-founded Family Values @ Work, a network of 21 states working to build a movement for family-friendly workplace policies such as family leave insurance and paid sick days.

Obama’s Champions of Change program lets the White House honor people who do extraordinary things to empower and inspire their communities. Thursday’s batch of 11 honorees were selected for having worked within their companies, communities or organizations for commonsense paid sick and paid leave policies, equal pay and an end to pregnancy discrimination to support families, businesses, and the economy.

The president singled out Firestein’s case as an example, citing her lead role in enacting California’s first-in-the-nation paid family leave law in 2002.

“People said it was a long shot,” Obama said. “And 13 years later, only two other states have done the same. But Netsy has proved that it’s possible – California is growing, businesses are being created. Not only is it possible, it’s the right thing to do. It’s patriotic. We should learn from her example and get those numbers up. We need more states to join in.”

Also speaking at Thursday’s ceremony were senior advisor Valerie Jarrett – chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls – and U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez. The honorees took part in two panel discussions on working families moderated by Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Roy Austin, deputy assistant to the president for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity.

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2015
Under: Barack Obama, Labor politics, Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Clinton taps Kamala Harris’ sister as policy advisor

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has named California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ younger sister, civil rights attorney Maya Harris, to help lead her campaign’s policy team.

Maya HarrisMaya Harris – who also is the wife of former Associate Attorney General Tony West, who stepped down last year from his third-in-command post at the U.S. Justice Department – most recently was a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress. Before that, she was vice president for democracy, rights and justice at the Ford Foundation; before that, she was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, based in San Francisco.

Harris, 48, is one of three senior policy advisers Clinton named Tuesday to lead the development of her campaign’s agenda, Politico reported. The others are Ann O’Leary, a former legislative director to Clinton when she was in the Senate; and Jake Sullivan, a top aide to Clinton while she was Secretary of State and a former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris | 2 Comments »

Clinton aims to break James Buchanan’s curse

James_BuchananMy article in today’s editions about the Bay Area being “Ready for Hillary” included this historical fact: “Six American presidents had prior experience both as members of Congress and as cabinet secretaries; the most recent one, James Buchanan, left office in 1861. Then again, Buchanan is widely panned for letting the nation slide into the Civil War; as divisive a figure as Clinton might be, she’ll never top that.”

In case you were wondering, the other presidents who had been both members of Congress and cabinet secretaries were Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Martin Van Buren.

Also, Buchanan both was the last to succeed a fellow Democrat to the presidency by election, and was the last former U.S. Secretary of State to win the White House — a pair of 19th-century curses Clinton hopes to break.

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 6 Comments »

San Diego’s Faulconer endorses Chávez for Senate

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer endorsed Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, on Friday for California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race.

With state Attorney General Kamala Harris having locked down a lot of prominent Democratic side, Faulconer’s nod marks one of the highest-profile GOP endorsements so far.

Kevin Faulconer“It’s time we united Californians on the issues that matter to them,” Faulconer said in a news release. “Colonel Rocky Chávez is a fiscal conservative who’s bringing people together on issues like national security, education and making government more efficient.”

Faulconer apparently acceded to Chávez’s desire to use the title “colonel” – he retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2001 after 28 years of service – than his current title of “assemblyman.” That’s probably not surprising, given most Californians’ relatively low opinion of the Legislature.

“San Diego is home to thousands of veterans and active-service military personnel,” Faulconer said. “Colonel Chávez cares about our veterans – and as a Marine colonel, he knows what it takes to have an effective national security strategy, something that’s lacking in Washington.”

Faulconer is that rarest of birds – a California GOP rising star. Though he almost immediately ruled out a run for the Senate seat that Democrat Barbara Boxer will vacate next year, many in the GOP see him as a leading contender for statewide office in 2018. A San Diego city councilman since 2006, he won a special mayoral election in early 2014; his term expires at the end of next year.

Rocky Chávez“Mayor Faulconer has a passion for getting things done in his city,” Chávez said in his news release. “That’s why his support means so much, because as U.S. Senator, I want to create real immigration reform, bring our education system into the 21st century and ensure our men and women in uniform are fighting for just causes – and fighting to win.”

Two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, also have declared their candidacies, though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee. And former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, of Lafayette, has formed an exploratory committee.

Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2015
Under: U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

Hillary Clinton hires Google exec for campaign tech

A longtime Google executive will run the tech division of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Washington Post reports.

Stephanie HannonStephanie Hannon, Google’s director of product management for civic innovation and social impact, will be the Clinton campaign’s chief technology officer, charged with building new ways for the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady to engage with voters, sources told the Post. Hannon, a 40-year-old Democrat from San Francisco, is the first woman to hold the top tech post in a major presidential campaign.

My colleague Matt O’Brien has confirmed with Google that Hannon is departing to go work for Clinton.

Hannon’s LinkedIn profile shows she has held her current post at Google since March 2013, “building innovative technology to help people broaden engagement with their community, government and nonprofits” with a focus on “changing how the world prepares and responds to natural disasters, using big data and experiments to enable cities to make evidenced based decisions and sharing transparent election ballot, candidate and results globally.”

Here’s Hannon speaking last year about share how Google helps cities make better decisions with data:

Earlier, she was a product manager at Facebook from 2012 to 2013, working in site integrity and trust engineering – that is, “building product features and operations tools to ensure Facebook is a safe space for communication where people use their authentic identities.”

Earlier still, she was a vice president at Eventbrite from late 2011 to early 2012; a cofounder at Sensey, a startup that aimed to bring web technology to residential energy management through smart thermostats, in 2011; and a Google product manager from 2004 to 2011 in Mountain View, Zurich, and Sydney, Australia. And she was a software engineer at Cisco Systems from 1996 to 2002.

Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »